Recalling Feb 13 with MI Diaries
Share your story
We invite all members of the Spartan community, wherever you are, to contribute to our audio story collection about the violence experienced at Michigan State University on February 13, 2023, and the ways we have responded individually and as a community.
MI Diaries is a Michigan State University research project that has been documenting everyday life in Michigan via audio diaries since April 2020. People record their own voices and send in their diaries using our mobile app (for iOS and Android). Our February 13 collection will not be part of the research: We’re just offering our infrastructure to support community storytelling around this event.
It’s normal for the sharing of stories to elicit strong emotions and sometimes difficult memories, but also for it to help people reflect and process. Current MI Diaries participants also often appreciate the opportunity to help document events. Additionally, hearing diarists’ stories that have been shared on our website can help other community members feel less alone.
Don’t want to make your story public? That’s okay: We can keep your submission totally private, or share anonymized excerpts on our website, and/or give a copy of your full, anonymized story to the Library of Michigan for its archive. You choose the level of privacy. Click the button below to sign up, then download the app to get started.
You can simply tell your story, or you can respond to one or more of these questions to get started.
- If you feel comfortable sharing, what was your experience of Monday, February 13 and the violence at MSU? How did you first hear about it?
- A year after the violence, how have your feelings and memories changed?
- Shortly after February 13, 2023, many institutions around East Lansing opened their doors for free to MSU community members in response to the violence at MSU (Potter Park Zoo, county parks, the planetarium). If you were in the area, did you been take advantage of any of these opportunities? Were there any other ways that the local community supported you? Or were you a community member who helped to support others?
- What is one small thing that brought you joy recently? One of our team members has a stray cat that comes to visit every few days, and this week he was finally brave enough to eat some treats.
- What is something you’ve done to help someone who is hurting? What’s something that someone else has done for you?
- Have you had any other experience where a community came together to get through a difficult time? Tell us about it.
- When you are upset, what is something that brings you comfort? Is there a particular food, or a TV show that is comforting to you?
- What are you grateful for this week?
- What are you looking forward to next week?
At this time, anyone aged 3+ who is currently living in Michigan can sign up for the MI Diaries project. For this special collection, we are expanding participation to include anyone who identifies as a Michigander (regardless of where you live right now), and anyone who considers themselves to be a Spartan.
Although MI Diaries is a research project, contributions to the MSU February 13 special collection won’t be included in our analyses. We started this special collection in February 2023 because we thought our existing project could be used for this extra, separate purpose, as an outlet for people who wanted to talk. This includes some of our own team members, who also recorded their experiences and reflections of the violence on MSU’s campus.
When you sign up, you’ll tell us what you’re comfortable with. Maybe you just want to say some things out loud and know that somebody in our team will hear them, but you want the recording to stay private. That’s okay. We will protect your recording according to all of our existing, university-reviewed privacy procedures. Maybe you’d like your anonymized recording to be archived with the Library of Michigan, for future people to hear. Maybe you’d be willing to let us share an excerpt from your story on our MSU February 13 special collection website. The main thing is: You choose how private or public you want your story to be. If at any point you change your mind about having your story shared on the MSU Feb 13 special collection website, you can email the project at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask us to take it down.
YES. This is your audio diary. Use your voice. Express your feelings. It can be common for this kind of story telling experience to elicit strong emotions or traumatic memories, and it’s okay for you to express those feelings in your diary if you like.
No. MI Diaries values authenticity. This means that you should record yourself in whichever language is most comfortable for you, or a mix of languages.
No. You can record yourself just once, or you can join our community of regular diarists. You can also stop and start as many times as you like over the weeks and months to come.
MI Diaries has been running since April 2020, and we expect to run for several more years. After you sign up, you’ll receive a weekly email with new questions and prompts to respond to, if you wish. You can let us know at email@example.com if you want us to stop sending those emails, or just click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of any of our emails.
When you record, try to make sure there is as little background noise as possible, and that you maintain a regular distance from your microphone – this make the audio as clear as possible. We recommend sitting in a room with lots of soft furniture. For more info, see our FAQ page.
Participation in the MSU February 13 special collection or in the MI Diaries research project does not cost anything at all.
Because this special collection is a community outreach offshoot of MI Diaries, folks interested in submitting a story for the MSU February 13 collection will use the MI Diaries app and infrastructure. When new users go into the app for the first time, they complete our standard sign-up form. As part of this sign-up form, MI Diaries participants are asked whether they’d like to receive a $5 Amazon gift card for each week that they contribute 15 minutes or more of audio diary.
If you know that you only want to submit to the MSU February 13 collection, please select “use my $5 to pay another participant” when you sign up. If you think you’d like to become a regular diarist, feel free to choose whichever payment option is best for you.
Even if you are only interested in submitting to the MSU February 13 collection, you will still need to sign up in our app and answer all the questions in order to use it for recording (and if you end up deciding to submit any other audio recordings to MI Diaries on other topics in the future, it’ll be important for us to have obtained your consent to use those recordings for our research). Either way, we will not use your MSU February 13 story as part of our research.
Many diarists find that telling their story can help them reflect and process, and they appreciate the opportunity to help document events in real time. Hearing diarists’ stories that have been shared on our website can also help other community members feel less alone.
MI Diaries typically picks a few stories each week to feature, that represent the range of things we’re hearing from diarists that week. But when an event happens that impacts a lot of people, or we hear a lot of stories about a single topic, we sometimes make a special collection about that topic. In a special collection, we try to pick a few featured stories that represent the range of things we have been hearing from diarists.
Our past special collections includes: (1) Our listening garden playlist, which is a selection of 22 stories spanning the pandemic in Michigan, April 2020 – January 2022; (2) the overturning of Roe v. Wade; (3) violence in November 2021 at Oxford High in Michigan.
Yes. This name emerged organically after the violence at MSU in 2023, on T-shirts and on social media across the state, and on some of MSU’s own materials. This is because, as mass violence on campuses and at large gatherings has become more frequent, “X Strong” has become a familiar shorthand in the USA for these kind of tragic events.
Although “X Strong” can be a rallying cry for solidarity or even action, it can also be upsetting for some people. The word “strong” can make people feel that there are specific ways they should feel (e.g., that they must exhibit resilience even if they don’t feel resilient) when there are many different paths for healing. We want this collection to be inclusive. We deeply acknowledge, as Spartans ourselves, the resonance of the phrase “Spartan Strong”, but we are no longer using it as the principal name of this collection.
Since February 2023, community members far and wide have come together with creative ways to support each other. One additional concrete way to support Spartans impacted by these events is to make a monetary gift to the funds listed under “Financial Support” by the MSU Office for Resource and Support Coordination on their “Campus Resources” page. This office will also be a hub for information about how the university is engaging in acts of remembrance in February 2024, so we encourage you to visit their website nearer to that time.
If you or a Spartan you know needs support, please connect with MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services and or the Employee Assistance Program. You can find more information on the website for the MSU Office for Resource and Support Coordination. If you’re not a student or employee at MSU, you can find free resources through the state of Michigan’s Keeping Michigan Healthy initiative, the United Resiliency program, or the national crisis counseling helpline. A source of support related to the violence at Oxford High School in November 2021 is the All for Oxford Resilience Center.