Odyssey Impact: A Student Recounts A Harrowing Shooting At Saginaw Valley State

Odyssey Impact: A Student Recounts A Harrowing Shooting At Saginaw Valley State

Miah Cooper doesn't let violence define her community.

Imagine attending a party at an apartment complex across from campus, and suddenly hearing gunshots just a few feet from where you’re standing.

Saginaw Valley State University student Miah Cooper found herself in the midst of a shooting around 1:50 a.m. on Sunday, September 11, and escaped the premises unscathed while five others were injured.

Almost a thousand people attended the party and quickly scattered after the gunman opened fire. A few hundred people, Cooper included, were eyewitnesses, and stayed to give their accounts to police. “I didn’t get home until after 4:30 a.m.,” Cooper said.

She woke up at 11 a.m., distressed. Her first instinct was to retell what happened on Odyssey, and to start the healing process of her community. “I felt compelled to write about it,” she said.

She submitted her post within two hours.

Cooper’s mission was not only to unify the student body, but also to give peace of mind to worried parents and grandparents:

My school is my safe place. My school is not dangerous. My school is not violent, but the world is. So on this day — and every day — I stand with my Saginaw Valley State University — because we are Cardinal Strong.

“I felt that the way I’d worded it, it would be able to help so many people who were there who were scared,” she said. “My biggest concern was that yes, it was scary, but that didn’t make me any less proud of being at SVSU.”

Within the next 24 hours, her story was resonating so much with other SVSU students and faculty that they started sharing the article on social media. Cooper, whose only intention was to help heal those who had been affected by the shooting, was blown away to find her article was garnering thousands of shares within just a few days of being posted.

“I didn’t expect a thousand shares and I definitely didn’t expect 7,000.”

Multiple students, alumni and family members of SVSU students and faculty thanked Cooper in Facebook comments and messages for helping ease their fears about the shooting, and for reminding them that SVSU is still an incredible place.

“This is such a beautiful article and you have empowered many to not live in fear but to put biases aside and come together with their Cardinal Family to always protect and look out for one another,” commented reader Ally Smith.

As several news outlets reported on the shooting, ABC12 approached Cooper directly about her Odyssey post, and requested an interview with her.

“I felt pretty great being on the news and the way my story got shared,” Cooper said. “A lot of people now recognize me, and I have no idea who they are. They’ll be like ‘You were the girl who wrote about the shooting,’ and they’ll read my other articles and say ‘I love the one you wrote about your dad.’”

After Cooper’s interview, the dean of her college quickly recognized her as a true leader on campus and invited her to his office.

Cooper, whose major is secondary education with a minor in communications, was previously told she may not graduate on time because her minor was not considered “teachable.”

After her visit, the dean made some connections and adjusted the program so Cooper could graduate on time.

“He said ‘I could tell the way you write, the way you talk in the news, that there needs to be a teacher like you in the world.’ That wouldn’t have happened for me had it not been for Odyssey.”

Almost a month later, Cooper is continuing to make an impact with recent Odyssey articles like “For All You Boys With Baby Sisters” and “20 Things I’ve Learned Before 21,” but her coverage on the shooting forever proved how powerful her voice could be.

“To be given a platform to be able to share what happened to me is so incredible.”

Cover Image Credit: ABC12

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The Difference Between Equality And Equity

Equality doesn't really mean "equal"

Though most don't realize it, there is a stark contrast between what equality means, and what equity means. Treating everyone exactly the same isn't actually fair all the times. What equal treatment does, in reality, is erase the differences we come it and promote privilege.

Fairness and success really do mean different things when everyone is different. Equity and equality are two strategies we can use in an effort to produce fairness. While Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. Equality is treating people the same. Equality aims to promote fairness, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help. But that's never the case in real life situations. Equity appears unfair, but it actually is just "evening the playing field."

Since everyone is different and we embrace these differences as unique, we must also redefine our basic expectations for fairness and success as dependent upon those individual differences. In the real world, this means that some people will need a language translator when speaking to a government agency and others will not. And it wouldn’t be fair to just provide Spanish translators just because it is the language most people speak. A Spanish translator would give a French speaker the same access to opportunities.

That would be a privilege.

Privilege is when we make decisions that benefit enough people, but not all people. Privilege is allowed to continue when we wrap it up with actions of equality because it ends up justifying privilege

On the outside, everything appears fair, because how can we argue against equal treatment? We need to recognize our differences as unique, rather than reach for one definition of “success.” By utilizing just one definition of success, we erase our differences.

Often times, decisions are made to benefit the majority of people without paying attention to individual needs. Privilege is a tricky thing. I don't know about you, but I’m not aware of my privilege on a daily basis, no one is. I don’t feel a bit of my privilege when I sit in an hour-long lecture or have 3 meals a day even though a lot of people don't have those same privileges as me. Usually, I'm just unaware of my own privilege, because the system generally works in my favor.

Now the next question is can we change the whole system? Rarely. What we can do, however, is be advocates for equitable practices in order to promote fairness. We can't keep relying on practices of equality just because they seem to be fair, because, in reality, they're not. Our actions actually do have to be just and equitable.

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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A School Shouldn't Be A Shooting Ground

I want to feel safe with my brother and sister entering school doors.

Imagine sitting in your classroom, going through your day to day routine of listening to the teachers go on and on about a subject. You can't stop looking at the clock, hoping for the school day to end.

You suddenly hear a fire alarm and even though it's the second one of the day, you just suppose it's nothing too out of the ordinary.

So you walk out of that classroom following other students and then you hear it.

You feel it.

You hear ear-deafening screams. You hear gunshots.

You feel people pushing towards you, trying to run away.

You see blood. You see a body, lying on the floor.

Your throat tightens up, you can't breathe. There is no way that there is a shooter here.

Someone who is killing all of these people you know and some that you have grown up with. You run as fast as you can away from the shots that resonate against the walls.

Pushing yourself against other students to find a classroom, where you find a place to hide.

Tears are streaming down your face. This can't be real.

You are confined in a closet along with a girl you knew from chemistry class. Both of you are breathing heavily, unable to comprehend what is going on.

All you hear is screaming, bullets hitting people, bullets hitting the ground.

This was supposed to be a place where we would be the safest. A place built on the foundations of learning and safety.

A school shouldn't be a shooting ground.

This was the reality for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They lost friends, teachers, fellow students, and their security.

No longer would they ever feel safe and secure at a school or even a public place. This horrific incident will follow them throughout their life. It will scar them in ways we wouldn't understand.

It's during this absolutely horrendous time that we need to make a change.

The victims of this massacre have already spoken out and are actively making changes. We can take our part by supporting them, whether it's through social media or joining "The March Of Our Lives" on March 24th or the "National School Walkout" on March 14th.

It's time for there to be changes made to our system whether it's making mandatory background checks or requiring mental health records.

We need some form of gun control.

Yes, I believe that people have the right to bear arms and protect themselves in situations. But I do not believe that a nineteen-year-old should be able to buy an AR-15 rifle along with nine other weapons.

School shootings are becoming so prevalent. This was one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States.

We are only two months into the new year and there have been a total of 30 mass shootings since.

How far are we willing to allow this to go on for?

There is obviously a problem. We have the power to solve it or at least make things better than they are right now.

Go to your local legislator, write a letter to the mayor, or even the president. You may not think that it can make a change, but every single action counts.

Cover Image Credit: USA Today

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