Michigan State Students Protest Gun Violence as Classes Resume

The Enough Is Enough student sit-down was organized by junior psychology major Maya Manuel in the wake of a mass shooting that killed three students and critically injured five more.
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  • On Feb. 13, there was a mass shooting at Michigan State University, where three students were killed and five others were left in critical condition.
  • Students came together two days later and again on Monday at the state Capitol to mourn their losses and express their frustrations to lawmakers.
  • The sit-down organizer asked legislators to sit in front of the student protesters so that they could see their faces.

Michigan State University students returned to class Monday, one week after a gunman killed three students and left five others in critical condition.

Students used the past week to recover and heal from the Feb. 13 shooting. Some spent the days at home with their families, while others lined up by the hundreds to get tattoos in support of the victims. Many also took to the state Capitol in Lansing to protest gun violence and honor the lives of the victims.

After a Feb. 15 Enough Is Enough student sit-down brought hundreds of students to the Capitol steps, thousands of students and supporters returned Monday for a Skip Class, Stand Up protest.

The protests were organized by junior psychology major Maya Manuel, who thought only a few people would show up.

It turned out to be just the opposite. On Feb. 15, hundreds of students wearing Spartan green rallied around the Capitol building before staging a silent sit-down on the lawn.

A video posted by the Michigan news site MLive showcased protesters' signs that have become a common sight after mass-casualty events.

Posters included phrases such as How many more kids have to die for change to happen, America is a loaded gun, and Protect lives! Ban weapons of mass murder.


Michigan State students and members of the community held a sit-in protest at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. They gathered after three students were killed and five injured in a mass shooting on the campus of Michigan State University Monday. (Brice Tucker | MLive.com)

♬ original sound - MLive

Students sat in lines with their legs crossed, demonstrating how they used to sit in classrooms learning about all of this when we were just 10 years old, Manuel shared in a video after the protest.

This isn't about politics right now. This is about the three students and the five injured that have this fear now invoked in them. Us as students have this fear invoked in us, Manuel said.

Several students shared their experiences from the evening of the shooting and their frustration for lack of change in front of their peers. One speaker shared a part of her speech on TikTok.

When is enough enough? How many times do I have to text my loved ones and ask if they are safe? Which words do I need to say to convince politicians that my life matters more than someone’s right to bear arms, user @katiesundeen said.

@katiesundeen a segment of my speech today (2/15) on the steps of the Michigan State capitol. enough is enough. i deserve to feel safe at school. #michigan #michiganstate #michiganstateuniversity #msu #protest #fyp #foryoupage #enoughisenough ♬ original sound - katiesundeen

State politicians were in attendance and even spoke to the students assembled on the steps and lawn. According to The State News, Rep. Julie Brixie, D-Okemos, told the crowd of students, As a mom and a legislator, I feel like I failed you, and we have all failed you.

Manuel then asked for the state politicians who were sitting behind students to move forward to face the student protesters, according to The State News, Michigan State's student-run media group.

Legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and House Speaker Joe Tate, sat face to face with students. U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotktin of the 7th Congressional District said that after the mass shooting, she has spoken with people across the political spectrum who can all agree that student safety needs to be a priority, according to The State News.

Attorney General Dana Nessel — the mother of twin boys who currently attend Michigan State and were both in lockdown during the shooting — told rallygoers that she understood the panic that many experienced Feb. 13.

Nessel told students that she hopes to see specific measures taken by the Legislature to address gun violence that has hit too close to home. She thinks that movement on red flag bills, safe and secure storage bills, and universal background checks will happen soon, according to The State News.

Thousands of students gathered for the Skip Class, Stand Up protest just five days later on Monday afternoon.

Manuel took to the podium first. She spoke about the frustration of returning back to class.

David Hogg, March for Our Lives founder and Parkland school shooting survivor, spoke to the crowd of students, encouraging them to challenge their lawmakers and use the power of their vote to ensure that future generations do not need to endure mass shootings.

Michigan State sophomore Rani Assava also spoke to the crowd.

We are expected to sleep in the same beds we hid under. We are expected to grieve with all those other families who've been victims of gun violence, and you will soon forget us like you forgot them, she said, according to The State News.

Another student, Jacinta Henry, performed a song to the crowd. Your rights for guns are bigger than our lives, she sang.