Students read names of genocide victims at The Rock for 12 hours


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Weinberg sophomore Melana Ellingson reads the name of genocide victims during TogetherWeRemember at The Rock. Ellingson said she volunteered to support the event that promotes awareness of tragedies to prevent them from reoccurring.

Catherine Kim, Web Editor

Students gathered around The Rock on Monday for a 12-hour reading ceremony of the names of genocide victims, commemorating the victims of mass atrocities.

This is the second year TogetherWeRemember has been held on campus by the Northwestern branch of STAND, a national organization dedicated to ending genocides. Students were encouraged to take 10-minute shifts reading genocide victims’ names and causes of death in honor of Genocide Awareness Month.

As a member of Northwestern University Community for Human Rights, another human rights group on campus, Melana Ellingson said she volunteered to support other student groups that help promote awareness of tragedies to prevent them from reoccurring.

“It is a really good cause to stand for … in such a tangible way,” the Weinberg sophomore said, “and put myself in one of those more vulnerable positions in order to commemorate other people and honor the lives of those who were lost in unfair ways.”

STAND co-president Andrea Albanez said both the visibility and length of the event are crucial to the goal of raising awareness. The group wanted to hold the ceremony at The Rock to reach as many people as possible, the Communication sophomore said, especially following several reports of millennials being unaware of the Holocaust.

Albanez said the extensive length of the event also represented the wide impact of genocides that cannot be condensed into just a few hours. She said taking the time to read the names of victims humanizes the deaths rather than leaving them as statistics in textbooks.

“What’s interesting is that when you read all these names, you just realize how many people have died, yet if we try to read all the names … it would take years because there’s so many people that have perished,” she said.

STAND co-president Ben Chase, who first proposed hosting the event on campus last year, said the event especially holds importance in the current political climate. Incidents of hate crimes should remind students that now is the time to act against hate, he said.

He added that the event is “very Northwestern” because it promotes activism and awareness, which many students are passionate about on campus. The goal of the event is to keep dialogue around genocide ongoing at NU, he said.

“I hope people realize that these horrible things have happened (and) continue to happen,” Chase said. “While it’s not necessarily expected for any one person to go save the world, you can be a more conscious person just by remembering these events and knowing the basic histories.”

Albanez encouraged students to take action by contacting their representatives in support of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, which seeks to improve the ability of the United States to take a proactive stance against genocides. She said students can collect signatures, host a call-in day or engage on social media to advocate for the legislation.

Most importantly, Chase said, students should take the event as an opportunity for unity.

“Now is the time where we should be working extra hard at just being a little bit more vigilant, and celebrate … the differences we have,” he said.

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