Mourning the loss of students



Oakland University students, faculty and community members joined together Tuesday in an open forum support group following the tragic deaths of Jenna Balabuch and Rachel Ring — as well as critically injured Shannon Waite.

The group started with an opening statement from OU English Department Chair and Associate Professor of English, Susan Hawkins. In her remarks, Hawkins read a poem and led a moment of silence in honor of the three women.

“I think it’s unfair that there are a lot of people affected by this (tragedy) … that people that are so young die in such a terrible way,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said that we live out our lives each day, but often times “we don’t feel gratitude for the precious life (we have).”

Bailey McDaniel, faculty advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, and several members of the group shared thoughts, feelings and memories of the women.

Sigma members, as well as those who live in on campus housing with Waite spoke about her current state.

Waite has been given the nickname “miracle Shannon,”  which comes from doctors who said she was lucky to survive and make it out without any broken bones.

Waite has been showing signs of improvement and is listed in stable condition.

According to a Sigma speaker, Waite has been speaking and eating — a big improvement from even 24 hours before.

Other speakers included friends of the victims, fellow students, professors, campus community leaders and strangers who showed their support by speaking.

Mary Beth Snyder, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, addressed the group.

She felt that the gathering was appropriate for the occasion.

“It was just right — gathering of people who just want to share their sadness … it helps to come together as an extended family to remember them,” Snyder said.

Glenn McIntosh, dean of students and assistant vice president of student affairs, showed his support for those at the forum. McIntosh was among those who were contacted over the weekend to initiate the university crisis response in order to help students and faculty.

“In talking to students … they felt support from the campus community and (they) thought it was very useful,” McIntosh said. “It’s amazing to me — when there’s tragic, there’s magic.”

Staff from the Graham Health Center were on sight — welcoming anyone to free counseling services.

Counseling is available to anyone who wishes to speak individually or with a small group.

“As we move through the funeral services, we want to be there for the students and faculty members,” McIntosh said.

Two U.S.A Certified Therapy dogs were also present with their owners to try to provide some relief.

“We were here (on campus) for the Stress Less Fest … we take therapy dogs … to take the focus off of what they are struggling with,” Alice Malkowych, certified therapy dog owner, said.

According to Malkowych, the therapy dogs typically don’t go to memorials or similar events, but they were asked to join the group and provide additional resources.

“I’ve seen people with tears come out and smile when they pet him … if we can make one person’s day a little bit brighter, it’s worth it,” Malkowych said.

At the end of the support group, attendees were able to sign poster-sized cards with thoughts and prayers for the women.

Waite will be receiving the card while she is recovering from the accident in the hospital.

Graham Health Center are helping students and families mourn the lost of the students.

To make an appointment with Graham Counseling Center, call 248-370-3465 or for more information visit