Every spring, Tower Guard, one of MSU’s oldest active campus-based student organizations, selects an honorary group of students from the top 5 percent of the MSU freshman class to carry on the tradition of assisting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) in creating a more accessible environment for students with disabilities. These chosen students spend their sophomore year serving on Tower Guard before selecting the next year’s group and passing the torch.
May’s Morning Sing, the annual Tower Guard induction ceremony named after their founder, May Shaw, upholds the tradition of welcoming incoming members and their families to Beaumont Tower. According to custom, selected members are not informed of their accepted membership to Tower Guard, instead, the family and friends of inductees are notified, providing an opportunity to surprise them in a creative way at the induction ceremony at Beaumont Tower.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the incoming 2020-2021 Tower Guard class’s experience was a little different -- they were notified through email of their acceptance and were invited to take part in a virtual May’s Morning Sing on Thursday, June 25th, 2020 via Zoom. Mackenzie Desloover, outgoing 2019-2020 Tower Guard President, felt that her own personal experience with May’s Morning Sing one year prior was vital to her outlook. She had observed that although the uncertainty of COVID-19 continued to grow, it was important to provide an outstanding experience for new members, which inspired her to transition the ceremony to an online format.
Considering Tower Guard inductees are chosen based on scholarship, leadership, service, and character, Fay Hargrove, 2019-2020 Tower Guard Vice President, welcomed the inductees of May’s Morning Sing by providing a glimpse, although virtually, of what their sophomore year will look like, working diligently to create an equal opportunity for students with the RCPD.
“You all must work together to adapt and continue Tower Guard’s support for the RCPD and your fellow Spartans who will benefit from their services,” says Fays. “One of our wonderful advisors once said to me, ‘Every year I am so amazed. Each class keeps getting better and better. I continue to be blown away.’ Although this year will likely have more hurdles to overcome, I know that your class will be no exception.”
Not letting an unconventional beginning offset the rest of their Tower Guard experience, inductees were left inspired by various guest speakers, including Mark G., father of a recent Business graduate, Charlie G., who received services during his time here from the RCPD; Angela Sebald, an RCPD Ability Access Specialist and advisor for the 2019-2020 Tower Guard class; Dr. Denise Maybank, MSU’s Vice President of Student Affairs and Services; and Dr. Teresa Sullivan, the current Interim Provost. The 76 inducted students were further motivated to take on this opportunity to create change and make a difference in their Spartan community and beyond.
“What makes Tower Guard a special organization is that you are working will other individuals, around the same age group, that present themselves with the same values and dedication to making a difference,” states Mackenzie. “The great thing about Tower Guard is that members are always adapting and coming up with new ways to stay involved, like this year we did Beaumont Hospital Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams and worked with Sparrow Hospital. And there are even more opportunities for members in the future.”
By hosting May's Morning Sing virtually, in front of Beaumont Tower, Tower Guard was still able to honor years of tradition. Although the new inductees did not experience May’s Morning Sing in the same way as past classes had done, they were present as history was made with the premiering of a musical piece to signify the foundation of Tower Guard.
Alongside the creation of this musical component was Maddy Niblock, 2019-2020 Tower Guard Secretary, whose love of music and position in the Spartan Marching Band inspired her to commemorate the organization’s great history in song. In a Tower Guard executive board meeting, they established the importance of a Tower Guard song, with Maddy signing up for the task without hesitation.
“Right away, I reached out to the fabulous Michigan State University College of Music to find a composer, and I was connected with a recent MSU College of Music composition student alumni, Ryan Jones,” says Maddy. “I met with Ryan to help him better understand what Tower Guard is, what we do, and the morals/beliefs that we stand on. Once students return to campus in the fall, I plan on meeting him at Beaumont Tower, so that he can play the piece on the practice carillon. At that point, Ryan Jones will be able to officially name the piece.”
The 2019-2020 Tower Guard class hopes that this musical piece will be a great addition to the history and captured embodiment of Tower Guard. The music will bring greater connections and relationships with fellow students, built through the bonds of this organization.
From the student's Tower Guard members will work with, to the documented hours they will spend actively influencing their community, these rising sophomores have been passed a torch of opportunity to directly change the lives of other students. On this very campus of Michigan State University, May’s Morning Sing will always be a journey of adaption and guidance for making a difference in future generations of Spartans.