Students, faculty gather at vigil honoring Chuyuan Qiu 1 year after death


Kate Salvidio/The Daily Northwestern

Katharine Cusick (left) stands at the Rock with other NU students at the vigil on Friday. The vigil was held to honor Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, who died a year ago in a bike accident on Sheridan road.

Elizabeth Byrne, Assistant Campus Editor

More than 50 Northwestern students and faculty lit candles and shared memories of Weinberg freshman Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu on Friday, one year after Qiu’s death.

Qiu died in a biking accident on Sheridan Road last September. She was riding her bike westbound when she was hit by a cement truck at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Garrett Place.

The vigil –– held at The Rock –– was organized to create a space for friends and other students to grieve and remember Qiu, said SESP senior Katharine Cusick, who was Qiu’s Peer Adviser. Cusick said she helped organize the event with other members of Qiu’s PA group.

“I wanted to do something because it’s still very much on my mind, and not something I want to forget about,” Cusick told The Daily before the event. “I figure if I’m feeling this way, then there might be other people feeling this way.”

At the vigil, attendees lit candles and wrote letters in a notebook that Cusick said she would send to Qiu’s family in China.

Weinberg sophomore Erika Barrios, a member of Qiu’s PA group, told The Daily she helped plan the vigil because she wanted to “give back” to her PA group.

“For the past year, Chu’s death has been something that I think about almost every day,” Barrios said. “The impact that she had on our group and our first-year experience was pretty powerful.”

Cusick told The Daily she also felt Qiu’s positive impact on the PA group. She said Qiu was always upbeat and excited to learn, adding she was grateful to have known Qiu.

English Prof. Barbara Newman, Qiu’s academic adviser, also spoke at the vigil. She said she was moved by how many people showed up, even though Qiu only attended NU for 10 days.

“I have had her picture on my office door for a year, and I look at her and I think of what a lovely and promising person she was,” Newman said at the vigil. “I’m honored that I knew her for a very short time and I wish it could’ve been longer.”

After Qiu’s death, Evanston City Council passed a motion in November to lower the speed limit on Sheridan Road from 30 mph to 25 mph. In March, the city also began a construction plan to include a protected bike lane on Sheridan Road.

Barrios told The Daily she hopes students will remember why the construction is happening and be more conscious of traffic laws.

“We hear a lot of complaints about the construction,” Barrios said. “We see people jaywalking and making dangerous decisions with the construction. … It’s so important to be aware of, because things like this can happen and we don’t want them to happen again.”

At the vigil, Barrios read a letter she wrote to Qiu after her death, saying she missed her and that she valued their friendship.

Barrios said she recognized she didn’t know Qiu on a “deep personal level,” but she values the memories she has of their group.

“Chu, our PA group isn’t complete without you, Northwestern isn’t complete without you, the world isn’t complete without you,” Barrios said at the vigil. “Though we were only friends for a short time, these connections and friendships don’t end at death.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lizbyrne33