Nov. 12, 2021: Addressing campus safety concerns

MSU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Since my arrival on campus in 2019, I’ve said my top priority is the safety and well-being of our Spartan community.

Understandably, recent events both on and near campus have caused concern for many in our community. I want to reassure Spartans — near and far — our campus remains a safe place to live, learn and work.

The investigation to locate missing Grand Valley State University student Brendan Santo and bring him home remains open and ongoing. Based on all available information gathered to date, at this time MSU Police and Public Safety and the extensive network of law enforcement partners from local, state and federal agencies have no reason to believe that foul play contributed to his disappearance.

I continue to be heartened by our community’s outpouring of support for the Santo family, and I appreciate those who have shared information with law enforcement and volunteered in the search. But I do understand that this tragic situation has evoked many concerns and emotions.

This case has also brought forward important conversations about campus safety and security cameras, which are one of the many tools we employ to keep campus safe.

As many know, the university has thousands of cameras installed throughout campus. While we do not disclose the precise number or their locations for security reasons, I have learned our camera at the entrance of Yakeley Hall was not operational the night Brendan was last seen. We are fixing that.

I have directed MSU Police and Public Safety to order and install more than 300 new cameras throughout our campus. Those cameras should be here in about a week and crews will begin installing them immediately.

When combined with our other safety measures — including university I.D.-only access to all residence hall room floors, 24/7 campus patrol and presence by MSU Police and Public Safety, ongoing improvements to campus outdoor lighting and a campus safety app that will be rolled out soon — we are making sure Michigan State University’s campus is as safe as it can be.

It is important to remember that the safety of our community also depends upon each of us. Off-campus vandalism, such as we witnessed following the U-M game, has a direct impact on our community’s sense of well-being and resources devoted to safety. It also causes a real threat to participants and bystanders. As I shared before, this criminal and destructive behavior cannot and will not be tolerated. MSU continues to work with our partners in East Lansing to identify those who took part in recent vandalism and arson, and we offer our commitment and support to the City of East Lansing to work together to maintain a safe off-campus community. Students who are identified as participating in illegal activities will be subject to our student conduct code and will be held accountable for destructive behavior.

I am sure additional questions remain, and dialogue on the fundamentals of safety on and around our campus community continues to be important. I invite you — our students and families — to join Vice President of Public Safety and Chief of Police Marlon C. Lynch, Senior Vice President Vennie Gore and others for a virtual town hall to discuss these topics and the many ways we are working to keep students, families, employees and visitors safe. The town hall begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, and can be accessed from this link, passcode 185502. Those attending are encouraged to submit questions in advance by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, using our online form.

Before next week’s town hall, I encourage you to review MSU Police and Public Safety’s campus safety tips and resources designed to help keep you and others safe.


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)