Play it through

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On February 13th, a gunman opened fire at Michigan State University. Three students were killed: Arielle Diamond Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner. Five others were injured, and the killer later took his own life. It was a tragedy that rocked East Lansing, and just one of the many shootings that have been occurring in the United States. There’s a lot to be said: on gun control, on dealing with these, and trying to prevent more shootings from happening. Much of it has been said over and over again, not just by my colleagues here at The Tartan, but by national news and federal politicians. Not much changes, and that’s a tragedy as well.

Five days later, the Michigan State Spartans played the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines, welcoming their fellow Michiganders to the Crisler Center, gave tribute. The stadium was lit up in Michigan State’s green and white, partially thanks to LED bracelets handed out to the student section. There was also a banner that read out "Spartan Strong," and the Wolverines' band practiced and played the Spartans’ alma mater, "MSU Shadows." Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball coach, gave a comment afterwards: “We played the game to try and make many people back in East Lansing and around the world escape for two hours and enjoy the moment. I thought for the most part, we did our part.”

Every shooting carries trauma with it. At Michigan State, there were students who had survived previous shootings. That is an even larger indictment of this culture. How have we just given up on stopping this trauma from continuing and reaching new audiences?

Izzo is right — his squad played that game to help give people an escape. What does that say about us? What does that say about the country where a game of basketball, where candlelight vigils and speeches, inspiring as they are, replace tangible, genuine action? How many times will we hear thoughts and prayers? How many more times will we read the headline that people died because someone who shouldn’t have had access to a gun had one anyway?

How much longer will we look for an escape and respite when we could be making change?

I applaud the universities who held vigil for Michigan State. It’s important, now more than ever, that they know we’re in their corner. It’s important, now more than ever, that we show solidarity. And it’s important, now more than ever, that something — anything — changes. Sensible gun control policies have over 85 percent support, and simple background checks, mental health screenings, and trainings would go a long way in preventing something like this from happening. Across the country, we need to step up and make it less easy to just get a gun, and put in steps to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

Go Green. Go White. Go State.