Last night was one of the most traumatizing experiences of my entire life, as I watched someone fire a gun into a crowd at the place I call my home-away-from-home. As an SVSU student celebrating a great football win at an off-campus party, I would have never expected to see a shooting at Campus Village.
As a young adult, it put the world into a new perspective.
You don't ever think you'll be in a situation like that. You read about it in the news, you hear about it happening in distant places, but this was different. I heard the shots, I saw the flashes, I heard the screams, and I saw the chaos ensue.
As a friend, it terrified me.
In a group of 6, I could only reach out and grab one. With hundreds of people running in every direction, I just hoped all of my friends were running in the right one. I hoped that they were surrounded by the right people, and I hoped that they were safe.
As a student, it shook me up.
It angered me, and it outright upset me. In the midst of my celebration, I had to fear for my life and the life of every other student around me.
As an orientation leader, it genuinely saddened me.
I thought about the inevitable news stories and the number of future students and parents whose college decisions may be affected by such a thoughtless and idiotic event off-campus.
However, as a Cardinal, my red pride is unchanged.
I was in the apartment of a stranger who repeatedly checked on us seeking safety on the floor of his darkened apartment. I've heard stories of students aiding one of the shooting victims without question. When I finally checked my phone, I had numerous messages from all my Cardinal friends telling me they were OK and making sure I was OK. I walked outside and felt the energy. I saw the tears and the hugs, the familiar faces (that I was so happy to see). I go on social media to see an outpour of red pride, safe wishes, thoughts and prayers for everyone at the scene. I saw people asking anyone in the surrounding townhomes to send out a tweet whenever they were home safe.
It's taken me three years to get involved enough on campus to surround myself with new, wonderful friends. It's taken me three years to break out of my comfort zone to make a name and find a place for myself at my university. I will not let this incident put me back in my shell. I will not let this incident change the way that I have always viewed Saginaw Valley. It's a school big enough to give you the experience of university life, but small enough to allow you to see familiar and friendly faces everywhere you go. It's a school that turned my brother into the successful man that he is, and a school that helped me meet a number of professors who have taken the time to get to know me. It's my classroom, my place of employment, my study hall, my dance floor, and my home-away-from-home.
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.