By David Rudolph
It’s a sad day for the Spartan Nation – victims, their families, and the State of Michigan. I am a MSU alumnus I can barely find the words to properly express my deepest sadness, anger, and disbelief that something so hideous and tragic would find its way to my university. We all are asking questions as to what kind of person would do this, why did this happen, how could this have been prevented, and how will this change the lives and experiences of MSU students and alumni community forever?
When I was a resident assistant (RA) in Emmons Hall (located within the Brody Complex and right across the street from the Kellogg Center) back in 1988 Our biggest issues back then were underage drinking, an unruly “kegger” dorm party, loud music, or the occasional roommate disagreements. That was then – an age of innocence. Our society is much more violent today than what I ever experienced, and now the same threats we fear about in the ‘real world’ are here on our college and university campuses. The threats are real and unfortunately every one of these progressive mass shootings robs us of our sense of safety in public and private settings. When will it stop? When will it stop?
What saddens me in addition to the loss of life at my beloved Michigan State University, is knowing this vile aggression against innocent students and staff came at the hands of a person who looks like me – a Black man. Yes, I said it because truth be told, every time I hear, see or read about a mass shooting in this country the first thing I feel as a human is empathy for those affected. The second thing I say is ‘please Lord don’t let it be a Black person involved.’ Why would that come to mind? Because I am a Black man who lives in America – seen as a perpetual menace to society. An incident like this shooting at MSU gives me pause because at the end of the day our society only sees bad and good, Black and white.
I’m tired of the mass shootings, the platitudes of ‘thoughts and prayers,’ the fights across the political aisles over gun control, and the indifference given to behavioral health, and the stigma that is alive and well among Black men regarding our mental wellness. We need to do more in general related to mental health awareness and treatment because our very lives and sense of security depend on it.
It was reported in the media the gunman’s father commented on his son’s state of mind as “evil” and becoming progressively “mean” after the death of his mother. Who is to say if the father had access to mental health treatment for his son, with more acceptance, and less stigma around this condition in our community, tragedies like this could be prevented in the future.
However, to be clear the mass shooting including severe injury and loss of life at MSU is not about Black or white. It’s about Green and White, and how we as Spartan Nation will grieve and mourn the loss of beautiful lives cut too short. May God’s comforting hands be upon us all. Go Green, Go White! Spartan Strong!
David E. Rudolph is a graduate of Michigan State University (Class of 1989) where he received a B.A. in Criminal Justice, he has a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Florida State University, studied at Cambridge University, is a Leadership Detroit Class XXIV alumnus, and founder and managing partner at D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations. In 2022 David received his first Emmy® nomination as a co-producer for his work with WXYZ-TV 7 Action News segment “Black Men in America: A Powerful Conversation.” He is a native Detroiter living in the city with his wife Contessa and daughter Rielly – Detroit’s youngest resident to be awarded the Spirit of Detroit award.