The past few days have been ones of confusion, sadness and grieving here at Alma College as one of our classmates, friends and fellow Scot – Sean Murawske—is no longer with us.
If you aren’t aware of what happened, see this article for a summary.
When something goes wrong on a small campus like Alma’s, everyone is affected in some way or another. Some students were classmates, friends and even hall mates with Sean. Others never got the chance to meet him but were eager to help with the search efforts and hanging missing posters throughout campus and the community.
The thing is, nobody sat back and watched. The local police had requested assistance with search crews on Tuesday morning, but the 300+ people they had show up was far more than they expected.
To me, this shows something. This shows that we are a community, and our community—particularly the past few days—extends far beyond the borders of our physical location.
Some parts of this community I keep referring to are obvious—Alma students, faculty, staff, and administrators and well as people who live in the city of Alma. But beyond this inner community we also had people from Harbor Beach (Sean’s hometown), as well as concerned parents who were with us via phone, friends from home, and basically anyone reading mid-Michigan news who was sending support, positive thoughts and prayers.
I believe that this community and this support is one of the biggest positives about being at a small, private school. Professors not only understand what we are going through, they are mourning Sean’s loss right along with us. Some knew Sean better than most students did, in fact. Therefore, some professors gave their classes time extensions or a day off, just so students—the community—had the time to grieve and remember Sean.
As much as it is unfortunate that it takes a tragic event to help us see the strength of our community, it is nice to know the amount of support that exists here at Alma when things do go wrong.
Students will grieve in different ways and the school has set up every possible way to make them more comfortable and offer the support they need. The Counseling and Wellness Center has opened its doors for walk-in appointments and is bringing in the therapy dogs to bring some smiles back to campus. Prayer and remembrance services have been held for students to attend, most of which have been so full that there was standing room only. The chapel has also opened its doors to anyone who grieves better with prayer, which many students here do.
Another way students have been showing support around campus is through social media, where the hashtags #PlaidHeals, #FindSean and #AlmaStrong, among several others, have been circulating. Students have posted photos and sent kind words of hope and of sympathy to Sean’s brothers Jake and Dan, who also attend Alma College.
A Facebook page has been created in memory of Sean (https://www.facebook.com/InLovingMemoryofSeanMurawske). Many students are coming up with their own personal ways to remember Sean and to help his memory live on in the Alma College community.