The recent shooting has, understandably, left an impression on many Ferris students who now are left to wonder “is Ferris safe?” and “when will it happen next?” among other questions. So let me be the first to say this: don’t worry about it.
The Venlo shooting was simply this: the result of one fool who treated a deadly weapon like a toy. It was not a planned attack and it should not be assumed anything like it will happen in the Big Rapids area again for a long time, far past the time when anybody on campus today will have long since graduated. However, since the university has been relatively quiet on the matter, the need exists to talk about what happened in a civilized manner, unburdened by rumor, racial epithets, or the fear-mongering of paranoid community members.
The history of random acts of violence dates back to when our most vague of human ancestors first came into being. To be alive is to live with the notion every second somewhere something bad is happening and that someday it may happen near you. And yet, does mankind collectively crouch in fear every day waiting for something bad to happen? No; we live our lives and when something wicked comes our way, we make ourselves strong enough to deal with it. Once it’s done, we move on to physical, mental and spiritual healing.
The day of the shooting was probably the longest period of uninterrupted wakefulness I’ve encountered in my life thus far. From 8:30 that Saturday morning to 2:30 the following Sunday morning, I was wide awake and watched as the events of the day unfolded. Throughout that Saturday I watched not just my fellow Torch staff grow as reporters, but also saw Big Rapids’ own various police forces – establishments that until that day I thought existed only to hand out unjust parking tickets and perform intrusive pot “busts” – put on their big-boy pants and deal with the situation with a level aplomb I’d never thought possible.
In the aftermath of anything like this, it’s expected that the affected community will begin the age-old tradition of finger-pointing. We can all ask each other whether it’s still safe to live in Big Rapids or decry the university as an uncaring and cruel institution (like we do every time a few extra inches of snow fall) for not putting campus on total lockdown while the shooter was still supposedly on the loose. We are and will undoubtedly continue to, but such questions are, in my humble opinion, more than a little unfair.
In truth, on that Saturday, our city took care of us, and should anything on the scale of the Venlo shooting or even something larger happen in this community, it will take care of us again. Big Rapids is not a scary place. The planet Earth is a scary place. Bad things will happen, many worse than what happened here. And yet, life goes on, and that’s what’s most important.