The State – 02/28/23

Rachel Fulton

Today’s weather forecast is predicting cloudy early in the day with partial sunshine expected later with a high of 44 degrees and a low of 33 degrees.

Comfort dogs travel across state lines to provide safe presence to East Lansing community

On the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 14, one day after the mass shooting that took place at Michigan State University, multiple dogs and their handlers traveled from states away to provide comfort to students on campus.

With over 130 K-9 comfort dogs serving in more than 26 states, Lutheran Church Charities, also known as LCC, is able to deploy their services within 24 hours of an invite. As one of the many organizations that brought comfort dogs to campus during this time, students might see their golden retrievers across campus sporting a blue vest.

LCC deployed six of their comfort dogs to campus that Tuesday. With three dogs from Indiana, two from Ohio and one from Michigan. Most handlers traveled across state lines for MSU students as they coped with the tragedy.

LCC also brought the dogs to Sparrow Hospital as well to visit with the first responders and the medical staff that has been treating the victims.

In order to provide the best comfort possible, LCC K-9 Crisis Response Coordinator Bonnie Fear said the handlers debrief at the end of every day and express their feelings so that they can wake up the next morning and do their job without holding the weight of the tragedy on their shoulders.

Over the years, LCC has deployed their comfort dogs across the country to different tragedies such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas and the Oxford High School shooting.

The dogs can be almost human-like in the sense that they know what to do when working — be well-behaved and approachable. But when the vest comes off at the end of the day, they can resume regular dog activities such as playing catch and running around.

Sharing sidewalk space: The struggle between bikers and walkers on MSU’s campus

With a population of just over 50,000 students, Michigan State University’s sidewalks are often bustling with students on the way to their next class.

Sometimes, problems can arise amongst the mix of walkers and bikers sharing these paths. Both bikers and walkers agree that there needs to be more communication on sidewalks.

MSU Bikes Service Center transportation manager Tim Potter said a lot of the crashes he sees are the result of a lack of communication. Sometimes bikers will ride into the grass to avoid a group of walkers, resulting in a loss of control when reentering the sidewalk, he said.

Dana Whyte, communications manager and spokesperson for the MSU Police Department, said MSU was awarded gold status as a bike-friendly university. Bikes are not allowed on sidewalks and should be used in the bike lanes.

However, finance sophomore and biker Liam Lyons said it can be hard to bike on the road in designated lanes.

“I use what I call the ‘bike highway’ … that’s effective. It gets me where I need to be,” Lyons said, “(But) some of the roads don’t have bike lanes and even if they do have bike lanes sometimes I’m not very comfortable driving in those.”

In 2019, MSU held a pilot project that inserted a two-way bike path with a protective barrier separating it from the rest of the road into Bogue Street. Potter said the project was successful and almost all bikers used the lane instead of the sidewalk.

Furthermore, Whyte said MSU Police is open to incorporating more training in new student orientation and online to promote safety.

Locals team up with Golden Harvest to deliver hundreds of free meals to students

What started with a Facebook post has resulted in hundreds of meals for Michigan State University students.

Though Golden Harvest, a breakfast joint in Lansing, is infamous for its limited morning hours four days per week, owner Vanessa Vicknair decided to pause normal hours of operation to help students following the mass shooting on MSU’s campus.

Beginning the day after the shooting, Vicknair posted on Facebook urging students to come into her restaurant after 6 p.m. if they wanted a meal.

For days, the spot stayed open past midnight offering “comfort food,” such as beef stew, grilled cheese with tomato soup, meatloaf and spaghetti.

Last Tuesday, after nearly a week of give-away in-house meals, Golden Harvest expanded its offer to those not able to drive to Lansing. On Facebook, a post urged volunteers to pick up boxed spaghetti dinners and distribute them to students across campus.

Volunteers immediately spoke up. In the post’s comment section, those willing to help coordinated which neighborhoods to go to. Parents jumped in, offering suggestions of spots on campus that might be heavily populated in the evening.

Golden Harvest prepared around 100 boxed meals to be passed out last Tuesday night and the staff planned to coordinate more deliveries throughout the rest of last week.

Based on original reporting by Hannah Holycross and Ellie Young.