Two students embrace at the vigil,

Vigil Held in Remembrance of Lives Lost in MSU Tragedy

More than 100 students and other Grand Valley community members gathered around the Cook Carillon Tower in Allendale on a chilly, snow-covered night for a candlelight vigil in support of the grieving Michigan State University community.

Participants in the February 16 event, many clad in green and white, were given battery-powered candles to hold in memory of Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner, the three MSU students who were killed in the February 13 shootings. 

Faith Kidd, student body president, was among those who spoke to the nearly silent crowd beneath the tower, which was illuminated with green flood lights. The Grand Valley Student Senate helped organize the event.

“I think I speak for everyone when I say that this week has been awful,” Kidd told the crowd. “The tragedy that MSU experienced was unthinkable and beautiful, innocent souls were lost to gun violence. My heart breaks for the entire Spartan community; I cannot imagine what they are feeling at this moment.”

Students stand outside at the vigil. Some wear MSU hats, and some wear GVSU hats.
Two girls stand at the vigil. One is wearing a blue coat and white hat; the other is wrapped in a blanket with an MSU logo.
A student wearing an MSU hat stands in the crowd at the vigil.

Kidd said she has been in communication with the other student body presidents in Michigan this week, and that they “worked together on a joint statement urging the state of Michigan and the university administrations in the state of Michigan to crack down on campus safety.” 

President Philomena Mantella was out of state, but asked Jenny Hall-Jones, vice president for student affairs, to read a statement to those who gathered for the vigil. 

“This act of terrorism hits home not only because we have so many friends and so many loved ones with ties to Michigan State, but because it was a violation of a place not unlike our own community that should be a home for friendship and learning, and for peace,” Mantella’s statement said.

Mantella pledged to do all that is in her power to make the campus a safer place for living and learning.

Aaron Haight, associate vice president for student engagement and Dean of Students, also addressed the crowd.

“Tonight we are not just Lakers. Tonight we are also Spartans,” she said.

Jenny Hall-Jones stands on a small stage beneath the clock tower, addressing the crowd.
Jenny Hall-Jones, vice president for student affairs, spoke on behalf of President Philomena Mantella.
Faith Kidd stands on a small stage beneath the clock tower, addressing the crowd.
Faith Kidd, Student Senate President, addressed the crowd.

Haight  directed students to the resources and support available to them on campus, highlighting the University Counseling Center, the Dean of Students Office, and the CARE team. “Whether you are worried about a friend, or you are worried about yourself. Please reach out and utilize the resources that are available,” she said.

The vigil concluded with a performance of “Rainbow Connection” by senior Miranda Wojda.

After the event attendees were invited into the Kirkhof Center to sign a banner in solidarity with MSU. The banner will remain available to sign through Friday, February 17.

Students gather beneath the Cook Carillon Tower.


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