Part of a 500,000 Strong Community

Editor’s Note: This story refers to the violence the Michigan State University community experienced in February 2023. FAQs, important updates, messages from campus leaders as well as mental health and supportive resources are available.

Jack Harrison (’23) shares when it clicked that the global Spartan network was so much stronger and more compassionate than he ever imagined, and how he made the decision to stay at MSU beyond graduation.

Story originally shared on MSU Today.

The Bond of the Spartan Community

The Spartan community is more than just an alumni network. The Spartan community is a family, a big family, of over 500,000 Spartans across the world, ready to support each other in any moment of need. I had not truly recognized the scope, compassion and strength of our alumni and local community until a year ago, when our campus – our home – endured the unimaginable.

As a recent alum, it’s true you do not think about our global network until you leave college, wanting to stay close to your alma mater and keep those cherished memories at the forefront of your mind.

But before I graduated in May of 2023, I, along with our students, staff and faculty, experienced the love and support of our alumni and local community in the toughest of moments.

When I think about “Spartans Will,” I think about the hundreds of Spartans that were bound by their connection to MSU, their love for Green and White, who came together to support each other and to heal campus.

Hundreds of Spartans created personalized “you are loved signs,” stationing them across campus. Every day I left my 1855 apartment, I would see the same “you got this” sign. I had no idea who made it, but they did because they were a fellow Spartan. They did it to give me the strength to complete my senior year and for the hundreds of other students and staff needing support.

I think about the Spartans who came to campus with boxes of free food, dorm items and care items for “Spartan Sunday.” I think about the Spartans who brought their dogs for comfort, and the dozens of appearances Zeke the Wonderdog made at student events. I think about the hundreds of student organizations that held supporting events and made donations to different funds. I think of the Spartans who came to volunteer at community events on campus.

But our Spartan community is not all just in East Lansing and on campus. In fact, most of everyone is not. We felt the support from the hundreds of Spartans posting messages of support online, including sharing fundraisers. I received Twitter/X DMs from people I had never met. I received emails and letters to our office, when I served as chief of staff for the undergraduate student government, ASMSU. One day, when I was really struggling, I came home to find I had mail. It was from an alum who used to live in my apartment. And now he lived in England – that was the reach and support of the community. I still have that note on my desk today.

But the Spartan community made sure what we went through and who those amazing Spartans were, would never be lost. It is important for us to not forget.

The community shared their names, their hopes and aspirations. They wrote them notes, left tributes, shared flowers, among other items. Each note and plant were preserved because of what it represented and I had the opportunity to help do that. Brian, Arielle and Alex, you will never be forgotten.


— Jack Harrison


Read about how Harrison is continuing his Spartan journey