Northwestern community holds candlelight vigil in memory of shooting near UCSB

Christine Farolan, Reporter

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Members of the Northwestern community gathered Wednesday for a candlelight vigil, held in memory of the lives lost in the Isla Vista, California shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

The shooting, which occurred on Friday, May 23, left six students and the killer dead.

Medill sophomore Madhuri Sathish said her initial reaction after hearing the news was to call her best friend, a UCSB student. After checking on her friend and others, she realized they were all struggling to find closure.

“Everything about it was very close to home and I really wanted to do something about it,” Sathish, a San Francisco Bay Area native, said.

After emailing the Provost’s office about her desire to plan a vigil, she heard back from University Chaplain Tim Stevens, who helped her organize the event. Together, they planned the structure and purpose of the ceremony.

Sathish opened the vigil with introductory remarks, followed by Stevens and by Associated Student Government president Julia Watson. During her speech, Watson, a Weinberg junior, noted that ASG had reached out to the UCSB community on behalf of NU. Later in the ceremony, each attendee lit a candle while various students offered prayers and made speeches. Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, spoke before attendees took a moment of silence. Telles-Irvin told those gathered that she was a personal friend of an administrator at UCSB.

“He wanted me to tell you that he thanks you from the bottom of his heart and that he knew your prayers would make a big difference,” Telles-Irvin said.

McCormick junior Chi Chi Onuigbo, who sang and played guitar at the event, said she felt that it was important to show support at such a ceremony despite not having a direct connection to the victims.

“It’s more about the solidarity and the fact that it could have happened here,” she said. “For people to say it has nothing to do with us — it has everything to do with us.”

Sathish said she struggled with feeling detached from an event that was personally painful for her. She wanted to give NU students a way to grieve and reflect upon what happened.

“I wanted to show that what happened at UCSB is not an isolated incident,” she said. “We have every right to occupy public spaces without worrying or being scared, except not everyone is that lucky.”

The vigil was able to help Medill junior Alexandra Wilson even while she is away from campus during her journalism residency. She submitted a speech to be read at the event, having known victim Christopher Martinez in high school.

“I implore you to remember that our current reality does not have to be a permanent reality,” Wilson said, commenting on the number of shootings the country has seen in recent memory.

Ultimately, Sathish said her goal for the vigil was to show support for UCSB, from one school to another.

“We’re also a college campus,” she said. “This could happen anywhere and we need to recognize and celebrate these people.”

Email: christinefarolan2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @crfarolan

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