MSU tragedy puts student safety in focus


OU students attend vigil on Thursday, Feb. 16 in honor of the tragedy that took place at Michigan State University.

The tragic shooting at Michigan State University (MSU) on Feb. 13 was the 67th mass shooting of 2023. The incident put the gun violence epidemic in the U.S. on front pages once again, and has traumatized yet another community. 

The students and faculty of MSU, as well as citizens across the state, are still reeling from the events of last week and attempting to reckon with such traumatic incidents unfolding on a campus which was formerly a safe space for so many. 

“My sister lives on campus. She goes to MSU and she lives in Landon Hall, which is right across from the union where it started,” OU freshman Jenna Alexander said. “I know she would have been walking into the building in the crossfire of it if she had not been late from course lessons that night.

“She actually had her roommate call her and tell her, ‘don’t get out of your car. Go somewhere else, because I am now barricaded in our dorm room,'” Alexander said.

The shooting at MSU has sparked fear in college students across the country who worry for their own safety while attending classes. 

“I definitely felt like going to any college campus after something like that happens — it’s definitely a risk, for sure,” OU freshman Conner Cole-Salem said. 

Mark Gordon, chief of Oakland University Police Department (OUPD), wants students to be aware of how they can best protect themselves in the event of an active shooter on campus. 

“The best way to protect yourself should you find yourself in an active shooting incident is to be prepared in advance. That requires forethought and creating an action plan,” Gordon said. “Here at Oakland, we teach our community the Run, Hide, Fight techniques, hoping that one of the three approaches will keep you safe.

“We know from previous shooting incidents in our nation that those with a pre-planned action plan increase their likelihood of survival tremendously,” Gordon said. “The OUPD has created a video that highlights the use of these techniques, which is located at

“In addition to being familiar with these techniques, we recommend the following:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when you are on campus
  • Report all suspicious behavior to the OUPD at extension 3331.  Many times people will ask what suspicious behavior looks like. My response is, if it concerns you, you should report it.
  • If you observe behavior in a student, faculty or staff [member] that doesn’t pose an immediate threat but is still concerning, you can report the behavior at:
  • When you enter your classroom or other area of campus, know the quickest route out of the room or space that you are in or will spend time in. (Classroom, office, etc.)
  • When on campus, try to know the address of the building you spend time in.  Every campus building has an address.  They can be found at: During an emergency, if you dial 911 from a cell phone, you will be connected to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Giving them the campus address will speed up response time for first responders.
  • If groups or organizations on campus are interested in hosting an in-person active shooter training, or, if a staff or faculty member would like a representative from the OUPD to review shelter-in-place locations within their office space, they can contact the OUPD at extension 3000 for further assistance.

“Campus safety is a total community responsibility,” Gordon said. “The police department cannot secure the entire campus without the help of all community members. If we work together and are willing to report suspicious behavior when noticed, together, we can keep OU a safe community.”

Despite OUPD’s attempts to prepare the community for a worst case scenario, some students — like freshman Faith Green — still do not feel safe on campus. 

“I don’t immediately put blame on the campus security. My thought process is that it’s bigger than just the campus,” Green said. “I think it’s pretty much impossible to try and prevent violence like that when people have access to the weapons that they’re using, anyways. So if it didn’t happen there, it probably would have happened somewhere else.”

Though there are still many concerns to address regarding campus safety, OU President Ora Pescovitz is confident the OU community will remain strong in the aftermath of this incident.

“I know that our community will come together and affirm that safety, security and shared concern for each other’s welfare is something that all of us deserve,” Pescovitz said in a statement released Feb. 14.