Michigan State University to install permanent fence along Red Cedar River

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – A push for change demanding safety improvements at Michigan State University has resulted in the school adding permanent fencing along the Red Cedar River.

There will also be more security cameras and lights near Yakeley Hall, where Brendan Santo was last seen. Santo went missing while visiting MSU in October 2021. His body was later recovered from the Red Cedar River.

Related: Family of Brendan Santo pushes for changes, safety on MSU campus

Students got 20,000 signatures on a petition that demanded safety improvements on campus. They’re hopeful the new fencing will prevent another tragedy.

MSU students Eli Howell and Jack Trathen know the campus like the back of their hands. They like to run, but they said if you don’t know the route near Yakeley Hall, it’s can be difficult to stay in well-lit areas.

MSU graduate Maxim Jenkins said the area wasn’t well let and wasn’t fenced off from the river.

“In the morning, you could clearly see there was a drop off but at night, right at the edge of the road, it was a tree line and then just complete black darkness,” Jenkins said.

Even the fencing that was near the area at the time was not very tall.

“There was a lot of talk after it happened of trying to get people not to go in the river,” Howell said. “I think it can’t hurt having something that will create a barrier.”

After Santo went missing, petitions circulated to make the area safer. Jenkins was a part of that push.

“It’s unfortunate that it took a student visiting the campus losing their life for it to happen, for this oversight to be corrected,” Jenkins said.

With more lighting and permanent fencing, students are hopeful another tragedy is less likely.

“The fact that they’re even doing it, I appreciate,” Trathen said. “I don’t know if its actually going to do anything but I definitely appreciate the thought.”

“I think in tandem, the lights and the fence together are really what’s going to make the difference there,” Jenkins said.

Michigan State University officials said the safety of the campus community remains a top priority and that it made a commitment to making campus safer. Installation of the permanent fencing will begin in July. It’s expected to be completed by the fall semester.

Dan Olsen, spokesperson for MSU provided the following statement:

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