Mass shootings are on the rise: Michigan State University students begin to recover from tragedy

Memorial created to recognize the students who lost their lives in the shooting at Michigan State University on February 13, 2023. Many students pass similar memorials and place things such as flowers near it in order to pay respect to the victims of gun violence. Photo courtesy of Kaylee Sochocki

Michigan State University students went into lockdown when an active shooter entered the campus on February 13, 2023, just one day before the 5 year anniversary of the shooting that occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
At MSU, a 43 year old man took the lives of three MSU students; Brian Fraser, Alexandria Verner, and Arielle Anderson, and injured five more.
Michigan State University has since been holding vigils and funerals to pay respect for the lives lost in the shooting. Although the university has offered crisis support and safety measures, many students were still hesitant to return to school on February 20, as the grief and pain that the families, friends, and classmates of the victims experienced was still very present.
Kaylee Sochocki, a senior at MSU, went into lockdown with her fellow classmates the day of the shooting.
Sochocki was walking home from urgent care moments before receiving an email to go into lockdown. Fortunately, Sochocki was able to get to her apartment before that.
“I kind of had a moment,” Sochocki said. “I was like…‘I need to go home.’ So, I turned around and within two minutes of getting in my apartment I got the email.”
Originally, she did not think that the threat was serious because they receive warning emails frequently.
“We will hear this a lot and nothing ever comes of it,” Sochocki said. “And then my roommate had come home ten minutes later and was like ‘Turn off all the lights, we need to go barricade the door.’”
Within the four hours they were in lockdown, Sochocki and her roommate downloaded a police scanner app in order to hear calls coming in to have a better idea of what was going on.
“We didn’t know what was really happening,” Sochocki said. “Every time that we heard someone was coming closer to us, we were texting our families.”

Information courtesy of the Gun Violence Archive

While Sochocki was able to remain in her own apartment for the duration of the lockdown, many other students found themselves in public settings.
“When I found out that I had friends in the Union [student center] mid-all of it happening… I literally just screamed bloody murder,” Sochocki said.
Because MSU had informed every student of the situation, and instructed them to remain where they were, Sochocki did not expect to see students walking, so, when she saw a man walking outside of her apartment during the barricade, she was terrified.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is him. And we’re done for,’ because I couldn’t even imagine why anyone would leave the house during something like that,” Sochocki said.
Many students are incredibly shaken by the event and have been speaking out about what they went through.
“I’ve always felt really safe at MSU, it’s like you hear about it all the time but you never really think it’s going to be your school,” Sochocki said.
Although she and millions of other students have grown up doing lockdown drills and hearing about stories of tragedies occurring at other schools, she was never really prepared for the idea that it could someday be her and her classmates in danger.
“I didn’t know exactly what it would be like to live through until I had to live through it,” Sochocki said.
To make students feel safer and to increase security, there has been a greater police presence around campus. However, because of everything students had to see that day, seeing police and hearing sirens brings them back to those terrifying moments.
“For all of us, police sirens are never going to sound the same,” Sochocki said.
Since ending the lockdown, MSU has opened up more counseling services, including therapy dogs, and has sent counselors to different locations around the campus. As well as this, many local businesses, such as cat cafes, have also offered support to MSU students by offering things such as free meals.

“I think MSU is doing their best but I don’t think anything will ever be enough,” Sochocki said.
Originally, MSU planned to only have one day off after the tragedy occurred. However, they then extended the time off and classes started back on Monday, February 20.
“It wasn’t even a full week past when kids died where we had to go back in classrooms,” Sochocki said. “I understand that… it’s more beneficial for some people to get back into a normal routine…but I think it’s a lot harder for people who aren’t ready to go back to have to be forced to.”
As well as this, Sochocki believes that the loved ones of the victims have not had enough time to grieve either, as by the time they had to return to school, funerals had just begun for the kids who were lost.
“Not every parent has even had the chance to bury their child yet and we’re supposed to be back in the classrooms,” Sochocki said.
As well as this, on their walk to class, many students pass memorials and can even see the destruction that resulted from the chaos that day.
“We can see broken windows from where people had to jump out of it,” Sochocki said. “It’s hard to see that.”
Fortunately, many professors have been accommodating for students and have said that they will not be grading strictly or enforcing harsh deadlines. Additionally, many hybrid classes have said that they do not have to return to classrooms and that they can just stay online.
Outside of campus, Sochocki believes that the media has failed to properly cover the severity of the incident. The first two days

Infographic showing the amount of mass shooting that have occurred in America from 2014 to 2022. This includes school shootings and shootings on college campuses. Information courtesy of the Gun Violence Archive

after the event were filled with headlines about what had happened but after that, Sochocki saw almost nothing about it.
“We have already become a forgotten story,” Sochocki said. “We were just another headline while it was hot and now we are forgotten about. Everyone else gets to go on with their lives while there are 39,000 students here. This is our everyday, we don’t get the luxury of it just being a headline.”

Since the tragedy, people have been protesting outside of the Michigan capitol building, calling for stricter gun control. As well as this, March for Our Lives has organized protests around the nation. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s governor, has been advocating for gun control.
“I think it’s all in the hands of the government,” Sochocki said. “So many more kids, and so many more people are going to have to die… How many people are going to have to have their worlds shifted for there to be change?”
Despite any possible governmental change, nothing will ever erase the effects of the shooting at MSU.
“We all feel a collective sense of belonging here and just walking through campus, there used to always be a sense of comfort and warmth, and it’s gone,” Sochocki said. “Every student that you look at; no one looks the same, no one carries themselves the same.”