Paying our respects to Spartan’s lost at the mass shooting on the Michigan State University Campus
On the evening of Sunday, February 19th, the New York City Alumni of Michigan State University got together in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village for a Remembrance of three student deaths and eight students shot on the Michigan State University campus on Monday, February 14th, 2023. I still can’t believe that happened.
Concerned Alumni come out to support Michigan State University victims
I lived in East Lansing for five years and I never felt unsafe on the campus. Yes, we did have our share of jumpings and rapes just like any other campus but no one would have ever dreamed that this would happen. This is becoming an epidemic all over this country and no one knows how to stop it. Civility and manners have gone out the window since COVID but they were starting to disappear before that. In a town like East Lansing, my friends and I never felt unsafe or that we could not walk around the campus and feel threatened. How things have changed since the 1980’s.
We as Spartan Alumni supported one another that night
I did not know anyone at the Memorial Service but I can see that older Alumni like myself were pretty shaken up by this. I never dreamed this could happen at my campus but I have sure that Alumni at colleges like Virginia Tech probably said that same thing.
We as Alumni talked amongst ourselves that evening
The Alumni Association planned a very tasteful Remembrance under the Washington Square Arch in the park and we gathered as the Greater Spartan Alumni Association started a short program to honor those Spartans who passed. I could not believe that we had to meet under these circumstances but over a hundred Alumni were there frozen in what to do and how to handle the situation.
A member of the NYC Alumni Association starting the program
The Alumni Association started the program with some updates from campus and recalled the story of the Remembrance that had just taken place on the MSU campus in East Lansing as the University was still trying to make sense of it all.
Preparing the Memorial during the service
One of the head’s of the NYC Alumni talking to all of us
The Alumni Association gave us some updates on how the five students are doing in the hospital and one of the Alumni told us that they had started a “Go Fund Me” account for the students medical bills. The Alumni Board did there best to try to keep us calm but many of the Alumni were not sure how to react.
The crowds got larger as time went on
The Alumni Association gave us flowers to place by the Arch during the program
Personally, I was not sure how to react. Coming from a generation where I would not dream something like this could ever happen on a college campus. I know there were incidents like Kent State during the 1960’s but that was during the protests of the Vietnam War and the situation was different than someone randomly walking onto a campus and just start shooting people for no good reason.
Many of us were not sure how to react
As the Alumni Association asked us to join in and speak about our feelings, sadly it was the younger Alumni and the recent graduates who seemed to more used to these occurrences. That is sad to fathom. Some of these Alumni knew the victims or still had friends on campus who told them lockdown stories that they shared with us.
Alumni sharing their thoughts on what had just happened
We ended the evening with a prayer, singing the school song “MSU Shadows” (which sadly no one knows the words to even when we were on campus) and words of encouragement. The Alumni Association wished everyone well that evening and to keep our thoughts and prayers with the families of the victims.
Ending the program by singing “MSU Shadows”
At the end of the program, the Alumni Association asked us to place our flowers and well wishes at the Spartan flag at the Arch and we all made our way to the flag to drop off our flowers.
It was a sad and very bittersweet event and I thought the Alumni handled it beautifully. We all just have to have some faith in life and in each other.
We are “Spartan Strong”!
I have to share this very emotional and very warm speech from our Basketball Coach Tom Izzo:
I have to admit that I am a very proud Spartan of Michigan State University and am willing to travel to support my Alma Mater when they are playing locally. I feel the same support for Cornell when they are playing football games locally as well.
I recently talked about my trips to New Haven, CT and Philadelphia, PA for Cornell football games that had mixed results. I have to admit that Cornell football has not been one of the college’s strong points over the years but at least we have a good turnout from Alumni.
So, I put my walk in the Garment District on hold and attended the games both in New Brunswick and in Midtown Manhattan and supported my Alma Mater.
When I went to the Michigan State University versus Rutgers game back on October 9th in New Brunswick, NJ, it was finally nice to see what I consider ‘real football’ between Division One teams. This is usually the only game I can see when it is played every other year at home for Rutgers. Otherwise, it means going out to East Lansing, MI for the games which I have not done since 2013.
It was a rather gloomy day for the game even though it was a warm Fall weekend. Since New Jersey and New York are top recruiting states for out of state students, we have a sizeable Alumni Association in the Metropolitan New York City area. So, we formed a pretty big block at the stadium.
SHI Stadium (Hale Center) was just renovated in 2009 to expand the capacity to 52,454 seats. This makes it ready for other Big Ten games but I have to be honest. The place was a third empty and it was Homecoming Weekend for Rutgers. I kept wondering when everyone was going to come in from Tailgating.
The gentleman sitting behind me, who was a lifetime Rutgers season ticket holder, answered the question. He said the fans prefer to tailgate then come into the stadium and will hear the game on the radio or watch it on a tv near the tailgate. So much for Homecoming support.
The first half of the game was pretty exciting with the teams going back and forth. Rutgers led in the beginning 10-0 but it did not take long for us to catch up. By half time, we came back to a 21-13 lead before we left for the locker rooms. We would score 10 more points in the second half and hold Rutgers to a 31-13 win.
I have to say one thing during half time. It got very quiet with Rutgers Alumni as they left the stadium. Michigan State alumni hit the concession stands and I had a pretty amazing fried chicken sandwich with a Coke. Because of COVID, there was no place to gather and eat, so I found the edge of a closed concession stand and ate with other alumni from both schools. None of us were very impressed by the game at half time.
The game went back and forth in the second half but we pulled out ten more points and again, we won the game 31-13. After the game was over, everyone headed back the to the busses to take us back to the parking lot at the back of the campus. This was the weird part. We were all on top of one another in the stadium and again on the line for the busses and then they made us wear masks for the ten-minute trip back to the parking lot. That made no sense whatsoever.
I have to say one thing, don’t underestimate Rutgers Football. With their coach and the recruiting pool he has in the State of New Jersey and the surrounding states, this team will be a powerhouse in the future.
Before I headed home, I stopped in Bridgewater, NJ for a taste of nostalgia. I stopped at Joe’s Pizzeria in Martinsville, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for an early dinner. I swear that the pizza has not changed in 50 years since I started coming here as a kid.
The pizza is still so crisp on the bottom and at the crust and the sauce has the same fresh tomato taste that it had in 1971. I came here as a kid and all the time when I was growing up. The pizza is still amazing and the restaurant is still on only its third owner (the original Joe still owns the building). I relaxed and enjoyed my pizza and then headed home for the evening. It had been a nice afternoon in New Brunswick.
Michigan State versus Rutgers in football at New Brunswick
Highlights from the football game
About a month later, I got an email from the Alumni Association that out basketball team would be playing at Madison Square Garden for the Champions Classic. We were playing University of Kansas (who was Number 3 at the time) and Duke would be playing University of Kentucky for the second game (Duke would end up having the best record). The event would be starting with an Alumni mixer and get together at Mustang Harry’s, a bar near FIT and just south of Madison Square Garden.
I had not planned on going into the City that night but since nothing had been planned, I decided to be the good Alumni and support the team at the Alumni mixer. I thought at least the Greater New York Alumni Association might have a nice buffet.
It ended up that when I got to Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue, I talked with the host who said that the Alumni Association was meeting upstairs. That ended up being the Parents of the Players get together. The woman organizing it invited me to stay and have dinner with them but I double checked downstairs to see if there was a formal get together. I talked with another Alum eating at the bar and he said no. They just met here to watch the game.
Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue
I decided to head upstairs again and join the players parents and ended up having some very nice conversations with members of the families whose sons played for the team. I got the insights not just on the kids careers through high school but many of the fathers had played college basketball (many of whom did not have careers after college).
The inside first floor of Mustang Harry’s
Even though the food is good here I felt it was an expensive rip off. I was not that hungry and I ordered a small plate of sliders and a Coke. With tip, the bill was about $28.00! For four little sliders that could have fit into a dollhouse and a Coke with a piece of lemon? I think that the restaurant gouges people during game day. They could have offered some specials. Also, they had one waiter working our whole section. I saw what looked like the manager bring my order up which took almost a half hour.
I had a nice time talking with the parent’s and decided to stay for the game. I had not been in Madison Square Garden since the Big Ten Championship a few years before. Most of the stadium was empty because most of the Duke and University of Kentucky Alumni waited until their game started after our game was over.
I have to say for such a young team we kept up with Kansas in the first half. At the half, we were 39-32 with Kansas just slightly ahead of us. We thought we could keep up which we did for most of the second half but then Kansas started hitting the three-point shots and we kept missing the baskets. The second half we were only outscored 48-42 but the difference of the points in each half was too much to overcome.
Still, I think this is a young team with a lot of promise and I know that they will do well in the future. They all have two or three years together as a team so when it plays in the future, they will know how to depend on each other.
Michigan State versus University of Kansas game at Madison Square Garden