From better mental health resources to institutional safety provisions, local students, colleges and universities are reflecting on public safety after three students were killed and several others were injured during a mass shooting at Michigan State University this week.
“I think that it’s unfortunate that students are constantly losing their lives to gun violence,” said Erionna Porter, a Kentucky State University sophomore and a Warren Central High School grad.
The gunman opened fire at around 8:15 p.m., Feb. 13, in a building on the north side of MSU’s campus in East Lansing. The gunman was later identified as 43-year-old Anthony McRae, who died that night from a self- inflicted gun wound.
He had no affiliation with the school and his motives remain unknown, officials said.
The students killed in the attack were identified as Brian Fraser, Alexandria Verner and Arielle Anderson.
Nationwide, there have been around 70 reported mass shootings since the beginning of the year, according to Gun Violence Archive. Mass shootings are defined as shootings when more than four people are injured.
Imani Fuller, a 23-year-old student at Ivy Tech Community College, said access to mental health resources is one of the main reasons why mass shootings and gun violence continue to happen.
“The biggest issue is mental health in the Black community,” she said. “It’s just not something that is talked about. It’s just kind of shunned.”
Martin University has made many preventative measures for the safety of its students and for its community even before the shooting.
“We have been taking precautions (to protect students and staff) for a while,” said Martin University Vice President John E. Girton, Jr. “This is not a new phenomenon for us. When you are a person of color, every day is a day where you have to be on high alert.”
Girton said Martin partners closely with local law enforcement to make sure that the students and the community are safe. Another precaution is the security guard at the front door.
Brice A. Teter, the deputy chief of Indiana University Police Department’s Central Division, which includes IUPUI, said public safety of the students at IUPUI is and has always been a top priority.
“That’s our job,” he said. “To make sure they get an education in the safest manner possible. We are prepared to respond to all types of incidents.”
Two days after the shooting at MSU, Teter said his department had a prescheduled meeting to review the university’s procedures in case of emergencies. While the meeting was scheduled before the shooting at MSU, the mass shooting was a component of the conversation, he said.
Some of the preventative measures the university takes are to investigate tips of potential dangers that come in from students, staff and faculty; to train officers on a regular basis; and promote programs such “Run, Hide, Fight” for students, staff and faculty.
He said students and faculty are safe on IU’s campuses and encourages anyone — parents included — who is worried about campus safety to reach out to the school and talk about their concerns.
Teter also recommends people follow them on social media for alerts about anything from severe weather advisories to COVID-19 updates. While talking about the preventative actions and measures at IUPUI, Teter offered condolences to the students, families and friends impacted by the mass shooting.
“We are of course saddened by the situation,” he said. “Our hearts are with the Spartan community.”
Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Herron is a Report for America corps member and writes about the role of Black churches in the community.