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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

My childhood was characterized by trademark shades of pine and snow, enthused “Go White!” responses to “Go Greens!” offered in passing and big “Spartan Fans Parking Only” signs guarding the garage of each house I’ve called home. Before my family moved to Colorado, we would embark on hour-and-a-half-long drives into East Lansing to see my dad’s old dorm, stand at the edge of the winding Red Cedar River and pose for family pictures in front of Sparty’s statue. This Greek warrior was both a staple image in our household and a symbol of community, strength and persistence. 

Today, he stands adorned with roses, handwritten sentiments and a heavy shroud of grief. Across the way, the painted Rock submits the longstanding question: “How many more?” and yellow caution tape blocks the entrance of Berkey Hall. A campus which usually serves as an outlet for high-energy school spirit, an avenue for impactful volunteer work and a lively haven for diversity is dark, cold and quiet this week. 

Tragedies like this bear no novelty for America’s youth. A few years before I was born, this same sorrow shook Littleton, then Blacksburg when I was 4, then Highlands Ranch when I was 16, then Uvalde when I was 19—not to mention the 360 in between. According to Sandy Hook Promise, guns are the leading cause of death among American children and teens, yet it seems that reform still sits comfortably in the back of many policymakers’ minds. 

I haven’t called Michigan home in nearly 13 years, but I feel more connected to the state now than ever. Big pushes for legal action and small kindnesses are materializing in tandem, some inspiring and bold, some quiet and gracious. All of it is heartening to witness from afar. 

The Internet has been my biggest connection to the community. I’ve seen an outpour of support on online forums, the most touching words coming from the rival school I’ve been trained to resent my whole life: “Wore MSU gear at UMich today.” “I don’t know what to say.” “As a Blue fan, Go Green.” Locals have opened their homes to other hurting families, mindfulness jars and care packages will be donated to the university’s counseling center and services have helped the town heal and honor the lives of the three students lost. 

At the vigil at the Rock last Thursday, Michigan State’s beloved, down-to-earth basketball coach didn’t charge out of the tunnel with his team or fire up a crowd of sports fans. Instead, Tom Izzo stood before his community with a heavy heart and a call to action. 

“Let me close with a challenge,” he said after promising listeners that joy would someday return to the lives of those affected by the East Lansing tragedy. “Let us do a better job taking care of each other.”

Sparty still exemplifies community, strength and persistence, now more than ever. Whether you are a Michigan resident or feeling the impact from thousands of miles away, here are some ways to contribute to the cause or take care of yourself: 

Donate to the Spartans Strong Fund

Resources for Coping with Tragedy – Howard Center

Common Ground – Helps community members in crisis. Call -1-800-231-1127; Or Text “Hello” to connect with a crisis counselor.

OK2SAY – Students can talk to a trusted adult if they see or hear something that doesn’t seem right. Call 855-565-2729; text 652729; or email OK2SAY@mi.gov

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Sydney is a contributing writer and editor for Her Campus (CU Boulder). She joined Her Campus during her first semester of freshman year and has enjoyed writing about entertainment, issues uniting the nation and personal experiences. She loves getting to empower women to explore their voices and contribute their insights. Sydney is currently a junior majoring in strategic communication and pursuing minors in journalism and creative writing. She is a Norlin Scholar, an active member of PRSSA and interned with Renewable Energy Systems' marketing department over the summer. Following undergrad, she hopes to combine her passions for creative writing, public relations strategy and clean energy to ensure a brighter future for upcoming generations. While she's not writing or studying, you can find her playing music, attending concerts around Denver, shooting senior portraits, hiking at Chautauqua or spending time with her family. She hopes to publish a novel someday.