Letter from the Editor: Changes must be made to prioritize student safety

Students gathered by the bell tower to hold a candlelight vigil, paying their respects to the students who lost their lives in the MSU shooting. Vanguard Photographer | Ryan Pelletier

The incident at Michigan State University has obviously left the entire state in a state of shock. The tragedy was unexpected and took many by surprise. It was scary for anyone, but especially those currently in school or university.

This trend of senseless violence needs to come to an end. While being only two months into 2023, the United States has already seen nearly 40 mass shootings (fortworthreport.org). seven of which were school shootings.

In 2022, the United States had 647 mass shootings (Insider). As of December of 2022, there were 300 shooting incidents on school grounds. This number is only increasing from 250 in 2021 and 114 in 2020 according to K12dive.com.

Students are supposed to be able to go to school to learn, they shouldn’t have to fear for their lives while they’re doing that. School is supposed to be a safe space.

Why is it taking so long for schools and legislators to decide to make a change? How many lives must be taken or impacted before real change is made?

The mood was somber as students reflected on their feelings, comforted others and mourned the loss of life. Vanguard Photographer | Ryan Pelletier

After the event, SVSU sent out an email stating they remain committed to providing a safe campus for everyone. But what exactly are they doing to ensure that?

Students were given the number to the mental health center or the emergency hotline but that’s not enough. The mental health center on campus has a poor reputation and isn’t exactly equipped to be handling a large number of students.

Currently, they have few hours available for walk-in appointments, making it difficult for a struggling student to reach out for help immediately. Teachers also have very little to no training on how to spot a mental health crisis and what to do about it.

Yes, all teachers are mandated reporters but that doesn’t mean they know how to spot a student in crisis.

While I agree that keeping the campus open was a good call, a closed campus won’t stop anyone from entering if they want to, I don’t agree that enough is being done to protect students, not just at SVSU but at all colleges around the country.

While I don’t have all of the answers, I know change is needed. Students need to be protected. The fear we all feel each day going to class is unacceptable.

I don’t know if the answer is gun control or better mental health support, but they wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

The official stance of The Valley Vanguard is this: start putting students over profit and make changes to protect them. No one else should have to become victims of this violence.

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