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'Meet them where they are': MSU professor eager to connect with students once classes resume

Dr. Mitch Robinson has taught musical education at MSU for 20 years and has a son currently attending
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Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 16, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State Professor Dr. Mitch Robinson is eager for classes to resume on Monday, hopeful that his students will benefit from being around each other in an organized setting once again.

Dr. Robinson has been teaching music education at the university for 20 years now; East Lansing has become his home.

Like everyone else who is connected to the school in some way, he has been touched deeply by Monday's deadly shooting.

"Every one of us, on-campus or off-campus, Monday night felt the same fear that we all felt," Dr. Richardson said Thursday. "We had been attacked that night.”

Dr. Richardson immediately was worried for his son, who is currently a student at MSU.

He was in the student Union with two friends when they heard the first shot ring out. Like several other students who have spoken with FOX 17 this week, they first thought they had heard the sound of somebody dropping a cafeteria tray.

Professor 'hopeful' for student in hospital

After hearing another two shots fired, they realized what they were hearing and took cover.

"When we finally did get to school at two in the morning and picked him up, he said, 'you know, Dad, I knew exactly what to do, because we've been training for this since kindergarten,'" Dr. Richardson recalled. "I'm glad that his teachers did such a good job of preparing him for the most horrible possibility, but I'm also disgusted and angry that our society expects five and six-year-olds, and 19-year-old kids to be prepared to be shot when they go to a place of learning."

Dr. Richardson was also worried for his students, the young people who have become a second family.

He immediately started reaching out to some of his undergrads.

"I was trying to get a hold of all of them first, just to make sure that they were okay," he said. "And what I heard from a couple of my undergrad students is, 'yep, we're okay... There are 70 of us down in a storage room in the basement of the music building.'"

Dr. Richardson is grateful for the relationships his students have built during their time at Michigan State, hopeful that they will help them to recover in time.

“The way we're gonna get through this is by being together, by working together and by understanding each other,” Dr. Richardson added.

Three MSU students lost their lives in the shooting Monday: Alexandria Verner, Arielle Anderson and Brian Fraser.

Another five students were critically injured in the shooting.

One of those injured students was one of Dr. Richardson's music students.

“He was shot in the chest, and had a long three hour surgery Monday night,” Dr. Richardson explained. “He's starting the road to recovery... We're just very hopeful that it's going to be a full and complete recovery. They've already got some tubes out of his chest, and he's talking to his parents.”

The injured students are all still recovering in Lansing's Sparrow Hospital.

"Every one of us needs to find a way to process what happened... On Monday morning, my colleagues and I are going to be ready for the students to come in and meet them where they are.”

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