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Howard Community Reacts to Recent Michigan State University Shooting 

Students stand in hallway of Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall. Photo Courtesy of The Hilltop.

A recent shooting at Michigan State University (MSU) left three students dead and five others wounded, according to NPR. Many Howard community members described this event to be particularly sobering because they either know current MSU students and staff, or because they believe a shooting could occur at any college across the country. 

The Feb. 13 shooting was the second shooting to occur at a prominent state university since the shooting at the University of Virginia on Nov. 13, 2022. 

Ife Martin, a freshman computer science major and TV minor from Detroit, Michigan, shared how personal the shooting at MSU felt to her. 

“The MSU shooting was a lot. I have a lot of friends and family on campus, so watching it fold out on the news and through group chats was extremely scary,” Martin said. “For me, I was also affected by the fact it was the night before the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting anniversary.”

Martin is referring to Feb. 14, 2018, when a 24-year-old man killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to NPR. MSU’s shooting was thus a day before the five year anniversary of the Parkland shooting.

“It’s scary to see that happen to my friends and know that it could happen at my school,” Martin continued. “It just puts me on edge about everything, especially with our position as an HBCU so close to the country’s capital.”

Myles Pope, a junior physics and math double major from Lansing, Michigan, said, “I’m still kinda in shock about it, since it happened so close to my home and because I knew so many people were affected by the shooting.”

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“I’m still mentally recovering from the trauma of the event despite not being in any danger myself,” Pope said. “I can only imagine how horrific it was for the people who were actually on MSU’s campus at the time.”

Howard’s Vice President of Communications and Chief Communications Officer, Frank Tramble, offered his personal perspective on the MSU shooting as a Michigan native and as a MSU alum. Prior to joining Howard in 2020, Tramble worked at MSU in various roles from 2006 to 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. He emphasized that the comments he shared were not made on behalf of his role as a Howard administrator.

“I was heartbroken,” Tramble said. “I still have a lot of family, friends and colleagues who still live in the area. No student should ever have to live through that.”

He also said that he was not as surprised as he should have been. “We live in a world right now where there is the inevitability for these tragedies to occur and I don’t think it was the school’s fault because it was not something they could have controlled,” he added.

While there is no singular consensus regarding the number of deaths it takes to be classified as a mass shooting, The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as any event where four or more people are shot and killed, excluding the shooter. As of Feb. 15, there have been a total of 71 mass shooting events this year, not including events where less than four people have died, according to USA Today. 

With the amount of violence that college students can be subjected to, it’s important to be informed and ready, Jarrett Carter, Howard’s director of operations, strategy and communications, believes. Carter works with Howard’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) to ensure that everyone is properly notified in case of disaster.

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“We do so much to prepare for something we never want to have happen,” he said. “In case violence occurs, we want to make sure every single person on campus knows what to do, that’s an ongoing effort of ours.” 

DPS offers regular safety training schedules and on-demand presentations for students and employee groups around campus. They make presentations anywhere they are asked to appear and rely upon safety ambassadors among the student body to emphasize safety to their peers and friends.  

There are online training and safety videos that demonstrate what to do in case of an emergency, and DPS is in conversation with the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) to determine the best time to have an in-person safety demonstration within the upcoming weeks. 

In a potential shooting situation, safety heavily depends on individuals while they wait for the suspect to be found and apprehended, DPS says. In the case of a shooting that leads to a campus lockdown, Carter says that the first indication for Howard students would be an alert sent to their Bison S.A.F.E apps, their numbers and their emails. Everyone on campus will be asked to barricade doors or windows, silence cell phones and lock doors until an all-clear has been given. 

“We give a lot of credit to students because they tend to do the right thing,” Carter said. “When we stress to students the importance of a lockdown, more often than not, they really internalize that. It’s a relief.”

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

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