Students gather for vigil in remembrance of victims in UCSB tragedy

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Alvin Wu/Staff

Several hundred students and community members gathered on Memorial Glade on Wednesday evening for an intimate candlelight vigil to remember the six UC Santa Barbara students who lost their lives and the 13 others injured in the killing rampage in Isla Vista on Friday.

UC Berkeley joined all of the other UC campuses in this act of solidarity and remembrance. Onlookers listened attentively as some of the attendees expressed their thoughts and feelings at an open microphone. Paper and pens were also provided to allow attendees to send messages of support to members of the UCSB and Isla Vista community.

Official speakers at the event included Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele, who read a prepared statement from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, and Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell.

“We now stand together, as one, in mourning, loss and support for families, friends and colleagues who must deal with a tragedy that defies description,” Dirks’ message to the attendees read.

The vigil was organized by Jo Downes, a UC Berkeley graduate student who completed her undergraduate education at UCSB, and her boyfriend, Adam Rothman. Downes said she was inspired to arrange the vigil after seeing Facebook events for vigils at other campuses throughout the UC system.

“I was shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence,” Downes said. “As a community at Berkeley, we need to have a space where people come together and show our support for UCSB.”

With only one day’s notice, the campus administration provided assistance to Downes and Rothman by means of candles, a sound system and microphone, as well as security and its use of social media to spread the word. On the vigil’s Facebook event page, nearly 1,500 responded that they would attend.

“We just want this to be an event that gives people an opportunity to come together in the wake of a really shocking event and make it easy so it’s not about the setup, it’s about the event itself,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

At the microphone, the vigil’s attendees shared stories about the victims, thanked the community for their support and encouraged everyone to connect with those around them in this time of crisis.

“If you know someone that’s down or might be affected, reach out to them,” said one speaker.

Many of the attendees wore UCSB attire in support of the victims, for which some of the speakers — several of whom were UCSB alumni and knew the victims personally — expressed their gratitude.

“It’s important to support the community,” said Mai Vang, a UC Berkeley senior who attended the vigil. “I feel like if this happened at Cal, they’d be here for us, too.”

Contact Angel Grace Jennings at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.