This is my last semester at Michigan State, I’m graduating in May. Monday started off like every other Monday did. I arrive at the Union and clock in for my office hours after my one Monday class. I work for the University Activities Board, and our office in the Union basement became a second home to me this year. I took a job as a UAB Coordinator April of 2022 because like most college students, I needed money. I had no idea what it would be like in this job, but now I know it was the best decision I ever made. I found my people; I found my place. We had our regular Monday meeting like we do every week, 7:30-8:30pm, Union Room 50.
My coworker had pulled me aside after we we won our game of Clue as a team, and they asked me if I heard a noise. I had never heard a gunshot in my life, so I told them it sounded like a thunderstorm. We continued cleaning up after our meeting and planning for the upcoming holiday. As we were getting ready to go back to our office and gather our belongings to go home, another coworker of mine came sprinting into the room to tell us there was a shooter in the Union.
Like clockwork, we all began turning off the lights, closing the doors and hiding together. Just like we were always taught to do. As we sat, I texted my parents, my siblings and my boyfriend. I didn’t want to scare them but I needed them to know much I loved them in case anything happened. I sobbed and sobbed trying to remain as quiet as possible while the coworker who warned us all of what was happening, called the police to tell them we were still down there. I silently sobbed more thinking we wouldn’t be found. My friends grabbed each of my hands and let me sob in their arms. They didn’t leave either of my sides until the police finally shined their lights through the window.
My coworker whispered, “I’m going to let go of your hand now and let them in” and my heart sank at first, I didn’t want her to leave my side or let me go. I didn’t want that to be the last exchange of words we had. I sat there shaking until the police finally entered and had us identify ourselves as students. We put our hands up and they ran us out of the building. We ran past our office, past our belongings, and up the stairs I’d gone so many times before to set up for UAB events. But this time was different. I sobbed into my shoulder while my arms were up until we were left outside guarded by police cars. The coworker who had led us through all of this decided we should find shelter somewhere else, and we ran to Campbell Hall.
We saw students looking terrified outside of their residence room windows and we screamed at the top of our lungs “we are students, please let us in” until they finally did. We huddled in a dark hallway together listening to the police scanner, desperate for updates. I sat in Campbell Hall with my coworkers, UAB members, and friends for hours and hours until we could finally go home. I will never forget that night. I will never forget the fear in my friends’ faces as they wondered whether we’d make it out or not.
This is something no individual should ever have to go through, and it’s going to take time for our community to heal. My heart is with Arielle, Alexandria, and Brian. They are beautiful people who did not deserve what happened to them. It will forever haunt me that the shooter was one floor above me, and things could have been very different for those of us in the basement. I know I should feel lucky to be alive, but I don’t. I feel sick. I feel helpless. I feel guilty. It was the worst day of my life yet I’m still considered one of the lucky ones. None of us should need luck to go to school and stay alive.