Plattsburgh State’s Student Association hosted a candlelight vigil to honor the lives that were lost and affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Student Association President Vrinda Kumar stated that the vigil was meant to bring the events together to honor everyone that was killed despite which event was the cause.
“We want to come together in unity and remember the lives that were lost,” Kumar said. “And bring all the events together to pay tribute to them.”
Students, faculty and local community members gathered together in a giant circle in Amity Plaza, lighting each-other’s candles in remembrance of the victims and in support of the PSUC students that are currently being affected by these events.
Huseyin Pekdemir, junior psychology major and member of Phi Mu Delta shared that he personally has family in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which has been heavily affected by Hurricane Maria and is worried about their safety.
“I only just met my grandparents,” Pekdemir said. “Knowing how bad it is there, it’s scary to think that they could be dead.”
Bryan Hartman, Vice President of Student Affairs at PSUC stated that key part of the vigil was highlighting the resources on campus that are available for those who may need assistance in these difficult times.
“We need to make sure that students are getting the help they need,” Hartman said. “We want to acknowledge these events and the student’s emotions, so they can still pursue their education.”
Among the support and concern from those who attended the vigil, there was also a desire to see similar events like the vigil in the future.
Mike Spagnuolo, a junior audio production and digital media major and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, stressed the importance of the vigil is to spread awareness and start conversations.
“There is always going to be hate in the world,” Spagnuolo said. “Having these types of conversations can prevent so many of these tragedies. ”
Pekdemir also explained that awareness and prevention is a vital response that needs to continue to be done, and be done better in the future. Spagnuolo and Pekdemir also stated that student organizations could being doing more charity work to provide relief to the victims.
The Student Association is hoping to hold more events for students like the vigil in the future and pushing the limits to what the college can do.
Hartman expressed that because PSUC is a public institution, there are certain rules that must be followed to stop lobbying efforts that could affect attempts at holding some events in the future.
“There are limits to what we (the administration) can do,” Hartman said. “We are currently seeking clarification to see just how much more we can be done.”
Kumar and Hartman explained the the vigil was meant to bring people together in times of tragedy.
Hartman expressed that one of the positive result of the vigil was the unifying spirit of the campus and the local community joining together in times of national fear and heartache.
“It’s nice when community members come together for these important events,” Hartman said. “People who otherwise never would have met took time out of their days to come here.”
Kumar hopes the candlelight vigil sparks the flame of advocacy in the students hearts.
“We should spread positivity and advocacy to fight for our freedoms,” Kumar said. “We have 58 people dead when it could have been prevented.”
Even though there is a lot of confusion in the world, Plattsburgh State plans to stand by their institutional values.
“We are constantly pushing for more inclusion,” Hartman said. “And all voices need to be heard and need to be respected.”
Email Windsor Burkland at firstname.lastname@example.org