Brendan Santo, 18, a student at Grand Valley State University, visited friends at nearby Michigan State University (MSU) over Halloween weekend last year when he disappeared. Nearly three months later, a private investigator found Santo's body in the Red Cedar River. Santo's death was ruled an accidental drowning by medical examiners. They also reported that alcohol contributed to his death.
Earlier, MSU officials had said they would install hundreds of new security cameras after it was determined the camera at the entrance of the building where Santo was last seen was not working. Local reporters later discovered that approximately 320 cameras had been taken offline before Santo went missing. MSU officials did not install replacements before taking down the security cameras. When reporters asked why the school did not inform their students or the students' parents that the cameras were off, the spokesperson said MSU officials were concerned about "people taking advantage of that." The cameras have since been replaced.
According to Santo's family, earlier this year, a petition was created on change.org calling on MSU to improve safety along Red Cedar River. The petition received more than 22,000 signatures.
Temporary fencing was also put up along the river where Santo's body was found. According to a university spokesperson, the fence near a steep decline that leads into the river will be replaced with permanent fencing.
Investigators believe Santo fell into the river in a similar spot. The safety improvements are expected to be completed by the fall when students return.
SafeMSU, a safety app, was also launched by the school. It was designed with input by students, faculty, and staff. The app features one-touch emergency calls, access to MSU's Safe Ride, and a link to the Capital Area Transportation Authority's NightOwl service.
The app also features a virtual friend walk, allowing users to share their location with a friend who can follow their progress to their destination. It also enables the friend to contact police immediately if they believe there is an emergency. Amy Rock "Michigan State Makes Safety Changes After Death of Visiting Student" https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/university/michigan-state-makes-safety-changes/ (May 09, 2022).