MSU students’ role in East Lansing community highlighted after mass shooting

In the wake of the mass shooting on campus, some students are opting not to return even after spring break is over.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:35 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University students play a big role in the East Lansing community and the surrounding areas. MSU students are employees, customers, volunteers - the list goes on. Their absence has a big impact on local businesses.

In the wake of the mass shooting on campus, some students are opting not to return even after spring break is over.

MSU has been working with their employees (students and otherwise) on an individual basis, to provide additional time to heal and flexibility in scheduling. Local businesses are doing the same thing, taking it one day at a time for their student employees.

Just around the corner from the Union Building, Foster Coffee Company in East Lansing is doing its best to provide business as usual, at a time when nothing feels normal.

Keagan Semlow has been filling two roles: Manager, and friend. Half of her employees are MSU students, serving coffee to MSU students.

“It’s a really weirdly fine line to walk,” said Semlow. “So for us, we weren’t really concerned about who was calling off, we were concerned that our people were OK.”

Checking in frequently, she wants to meet the needs of each staff member. Giving time off, shortening hours, and making sure everyone gets fed. They’ve been serving up compassion, and fostering a loving community space, at a time when people need it most.

“So whether that was giving our staff, like one free latte just so we could check on them and see their face, that’s what we did. Our goal is to make sure they’re OK as people,” said Semlow

She said her employees have all returned to fairly normal schedules, but that it’s still being taken day by day. Working hard to serve their customers, while still protecting their employee’s mental health.

“We care for each other, and I would say it’s just deepened that,” said Semlow.

A few local business owners said sales have slowed down since the shooting. While some students may only be in town for four years, there’s no denying the impact that MSU students have on the Greater Lansing Area.

About five MSU students who work at the Westside YMCA are staying at their parent’s homes for the semester. This puts several child-care programs in jeopardy of being canceled. The YMCA said they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to host their upcoming spring break camp. They hope to update parents in the next day or two, as they figure out children-to-staff ratios. They have already canceled their daycare program on March 17.

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