(relaxing theme music) - I'm a parent at Michigan State University and I spent, you know, Monday night, doing what every other parent was doing, trying to make sure my kid was was safe.
I just want to have you start by talking about the atmosphere on campus, the things you're hearing from students about what happened and how they're feeling.
The effects of this, I think are immeasurable on the people who are part of the MSU community.
- You're absolutely right, Stephen.
My sense of the emotional energy and climate on campus is that, students, faculty, staff, anybody who is affiliated with MSU, whether we were present there at the time or not, is experiencing a high level of distress.
We are emotionally, you know, experiencing fear, anxiety, worries of, you know, what this means for the families that are directly impacted, how we can support one another as we cope with, you know, high levels of stress from the shooting.
So, the emotional climate is very, very tense, but it also is very supportive.
We have several opportunities that are arising to convene as a community, and really try to form some understanding together, around what happened.
Memorialize the lives that were lost as much as we really can in this moment.
- Yeah, the kind of trauma that people experience when something like this happens is, I think, you know, analogous to other really violent situations that most people don't experience, right?
War and those kind of conflicts, I really wonder how, outside the context of something like that, you deal with this kind of trauma.
How do you treat students, young people, who are experiencing something that most young people still, thank God, would never experience?
- You know, when we experience events like this, even if we're exposed to the event virtually, we can experience a number of traumatic stress reactions, that again, are normal, based on the way that we have to kind of metabolize this information or the experience, right?
So, we might feel more jumpy or startled immediately after events like this, or for a period of time, we might not feel our sleep routine normalized.
We might get less sleep than we're used to.
We might want to, for children for example, we might see our children wanna sleep closer to us or have, you know, a closer proximity.
So, we might also feel symptoms like being unable to eat in the same ways that we normally do.
Our digestive systems are impacted.
And so, we wanna give ourselves and our children a lot of flexibility and a lot of grace in these days following this event.
And for a period of time after, we wanna be checking in with ourselves, asking how we're feeling, trying to verbalize it, and allowing children and students the opportunity to verbalize how they're feeling as well.
And we wanna validate ourselves and validate each other, because however we're feeling right now is normal, to such an abnormal event.
- So, I want to talk a little bit about that word, "normal," in two different ways.
One, one of the things that I detected from my son when this happened, was a sense that "this is just the way the world is now."
And he's never been associated with a shooting like this, but they are happening with more frequency.
And, of course he knows about it.
That bothered me.
It bothered me that he didn't seem more bothered.
And, I wonder what we're to make of that, that we are raising a generation of young people who think of this as more acceptable, or just, they make way for it, in a way that I think should disturb us.
- Yes, and I would agree with you.
When we look at our societal context and we see how common these events are, unfortunately, we can understand how youth and college students are not necessarily surprised by the event.
We saw students at Michigan State with, you know, paraphernalia supporting other schools that had just recently experienced shootings.
There are students here that have experienced school shootings before.
And so, there is an element of this that is more common, but it's not normal.
When I say normal, I'm talking about our individual and our relational reactions to the traumatic event.
In that, whatever we're feeling right now, or however we're coping, or however we feel our routine disrupted, we should normalize that for one another.
You know, if you're having bad dreams, if you're feeling more startled, or if you're feeling more irritable about things that normally didn't irritate you before, those are normal reactions.
And so, we wanna offer ourselves a lot of flexibility in these moments after the shooting.
- And the other way I want to talk about that word, "normal," is how do we get back to normal, the "normal" that we knew before this?
How do you make that pivot away from the trauma of this incident, to a more normal state of interaction and being on campus?
- Yes, that's a great question.
And I think the question of, "what is normal," following this event, has to be decided upon by our community and we will approach normal together, whatever that means.
For this immediate period, it's really important that we allow ourselves the chance to just stabilize and to just sit with however we're feeling and whatever demands are on our plates right now, in terms of taking care of each other, that we honor that.
And then we can, you know, discuss decision making, and moving forward through procedures as a community.