Zac Slowik: Proud to be a Spartan


Spartan Strong sign by the Spartan statue on campus, during Spartan Sunday. Photo Credit: Jake Rhodes/WDBM

Zac Slowik, News Director

EAST LANSING – My name is Zachary Michial Slowik and I am proud to be a Spartan.

I am a senior at Michigan State University. I’m in the process of getting a major in journalism, with minors in broadcast journalism and education studies. I’m also the News Director at Impact 89FM, one of the best college radio stations in the country.

Last week my world, as well as 50,000 others, was flipped upside down. Three MSU students were killed and five others were severely injured in a mass shooting that shook our campus. Sending a campus once filled with joy into a shell of its former self.

I’ve always thought of East Lansing as one of the most magical places on Earth. I have considered MSU my home for the past four years. Four years of making bonds with people who will be my friends for the rest of my life. Four years of covering the students of this great school.

Last week, I forced myself to go out with my colleagues, and do what I could, to the best of my ability and help cover the students’ voices, from the perspective of a student journalist. 

Wednesday morning I traveled to the Capitol building in downtown Lansing. I walked into a crowd of people protesting. After thanking each of us for coming and covering the event, the only thing they asked was for the media to stay out of the way and not force people to talk if they did not feel comfortable.

As a student in the media, this made perfect sense to me. 

People were visibly upset, angry with the people covering the protest. So I asked some students why they felt this way. 

I wanted to share their stories, and what they said raised many questions for me.

Flowers laid outside the Union at MSU. Photo Credit: Jake Rhodes/WDBM

I was told that all week national media outlets have been somewhat harassing students who are grieving. Shoving cameras in their face asking them where they were Monday night, rather than if they were okay.

This brings me to the question that I have been asking myself over the past week. Are people, and the people in the media in specifically, so desensitized to mass shootings, that they forget people’s lives have been changed?

I’m a student journalist, and the placement of those two words has a tremendous meaning. 

I’m a student first, and a journalist second, but before either of those two things, I’m a human being. 

I grieve, suffer and process trauma like most people.

I attended the vigil at the rock on campus Wednesday night. I went there to talk to students and cover the event. It didn’t take me more than five minutes to realize that it would be wrong to talk to anyone. 

I put my things away and attended as a student. I may have missed out on experience covering an event, however, I didn’t forget who I am, where I come from, and why I’m here. 

I’m a proud Spartan, one who will never forget what this school has taught me. There are ethics behind journalism and I think my fellow student journalists have those in mind at all times while reporting. 

We’re told to minimize harm and show compassion. That’s what we did. 

When hearing complaints from students, I didn’t once hear them talk about any student media organization. 

I was one of the four students from Impact reporting. The State News and Focal Point News each had several reporters out, yet not one single complaint about any of them.

Hearts and flowers under the Spartan statue on Spartan Sunday. Photo Credit: Jake Rhodes/WDBM

I love the work that I get to do, but times like this make me question if it is something I will be able to do for the rest of my life.

I hope this is the only time I ever have to cover anything like this. I hope changes are made so nobody else has to go through what Michigan State and countless other schools have gone through. 

East Lansing is my home and my home has been devastated. 

To my fellow Spartans, stick together and love one another. We have shown that as a university we are one community, filled with love and passion. 

I am proud to be a Spartan and will be for the rest of my life.