EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — An online petition is gaining support calling for Michigan State University to provide virtual options for students not ready to return to campus on Monday.
As of Friday night, more than 19,000 signed the change.org petition.
Junior Kameron Cone created the petition on Tuesday, which quickly gained support.
“Just returning Monday to a scene of horror and a mass shooting just felt very unsettling,” Cone said. “I think the best happy medium would be a hybrid option. I do understand where the university is coming from. You can’t completely shut the university down.”
Cone said MSU needs to look at security procedures like locking more buildings and that since those issues haven’t been addressed, the university needs to provide additional options.
“Monday is very soon. Literally a week after a mass shooting. It’s a lot,” Cone said.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer told WDIV in Detroit that she thought a virtual option could be useful but that she would ultimately leave the decision up to MSU.
“Perhaps that’s a tool that some could use who are not comfortable. I can tell you as a parent of two college-aged young people in this state on a different campus, they too are struggling. They and their colleagues on campuses all across the state are worried. … So we need to support our young people, we need to listen to them, we need to wrap them with the supports they need and address their very real concerns about their safety,” Whitmer said.
Junior Carrie Scott from the Battle Creek area has a younger sister who was close to the shooting scene.
“I was feeling a little depressed and just kind of traumatized by everything that happened,” Scott said. “I was receiving some texts from her at the time that everything was going down that nobody should ever have to receive from a family member or anyone they love.”
Scott supports having virtual options with greater flexibility, especially for those impacted most directly.
“They don’t need to be back on campus for any reason so why should they have to be if it’s going to be harmful for them or if it’s going to get in the way of their education?” Scott said.
For students like Cone, whether she will be ready to go back Monday is unclear.
“I really do want to finish the semester successfully and I think that’s the most important so just having that happy medium that everybody involved is safe and just out of the way of any harm,” Cone said.
The creator of the petition said she expects fewer students on Monday because of some staying home in protest and others deciding not to return to campus this semester.