Following the first announcement of a domestic violence incident Friday morning on Central Michigan University's campus, alumni from around the country took to their social media accounts to share messages of love; wishes for safety; and prayers for students, faculty and staff. The show of support was nearly instantaneous.
Thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram shared thoughts of unity, solidarity, care and concern. Many carried the hashtags #WeAreCMU, #FireUpForever and #ForeverMaroonandGold. Alumni took photos of themselves wearing maroon and gold for their profile pictures. Some uploaded images of campus. Some alumni reposted a graphic of a heart with the text 'We are CMU' created by an anonymous supporter. Others posted an image of CMU's action C and the word "strong."
Marcie Otteman, executive director of alumni relations, said she was deeply touched by the support of alumni following the shooting at Campbell Hall.
"We have been through something incredibly difficult, but we are coming through it together. We are one community. We celebrate together, and we grieve together. We see the outpouring of support and know that our alumni are with us."
Opportunities to help now
Ellen Doepkae, a 2009 graduate, posted to Facebook to ask "Is there anything alumni can do for the students, faculty and staff? How can we show our support?"
Otteman said the alumni office has received hundreds of similar messages.
"Alumni who want to help students can make a gift to the CMU Counseling Center or to an area of their choice," Otteman said.
For those who wish to send cards or words of support to students, Otteman suggested mailing a card to students, faculty and staff to the Carlin Alumni House. Alumni also can send e-cards or messages of support via the email@example.com email account.
"We will work with our partners across campus to get those messages to our students," she said.
Sending support across state lines
Aaron Todd, a 1997 graduate now living in Durham, North Carolina, couldn't stop thinking about what was happening at his alma mater. Even hundreds of miles away, CMU stayed at the top of his mind.
"I found myself distracted in meetings throughout the day and constantly refreshing my smartphone for confirmed updates on what was happening back in Mount Pleasant. I worried for the students and friends who still work at CMU."
Alumni from other countries and from states as far as Kentucky, Georgia and Texas posted their words of support on CMU's social media pages.
Scott Diehl, a 1988 graduate now living in Iowa, posted "My heart goes out to my alma mater, CMU. I sent flowers to Campbell Hall and made a financial donation. Please heal, and God bless you all in Mount Pleasant."
Other alumni expressed thanks to President Ross and their pride for their alma mater.
Alumna Nina Victor said, "As a CMU alumnus and the parent of two CMU alumni, CMU and Mount Pleasant have always held a special place in my heart. I am thankful for the community of caring, people who live and work there who came together in a crisis. Kudos to you all. Always proud to be a Chippewa."
Alumni are forever CMU family
"When we talk to alumni about why they chose CMU, they tell us that it just felt right. They say it felt like home and family," Otteman said.
"CMU is a special place, and faculty, staff, students and alumni never cease to amaze me. No matter the distance many of us are away from campus, we will always consider CMU home."