UO community honors UCC shooting victims during candlelight vigil

Grieving members of the University of Oregon community filled the EMU amphitheater Monday night for a candlelight vigil. Around three hundred people showed up to show their support.

The event was held by members of the Erb Memorial Union, who provided candles and white cards emblazoned with the University of Oregon seal on a table where students gathered in silence, and wrote heartfelt messages towards the members of the Roseburg community. Daniel Pascoe, the Career Center director, introduced the speakers.

“Our nation is plagued by this issue of violence, and we have the ability to not allow our fellow Oregonians to suffer unnoticed” said ASUO President, Helena Schlegel, “but rather keep with us the events that happened last Thursday, and ensure that we create a better future in this time of healing for everyone.”

UO president Michael Schill spoke next, acknowledging that one of the shooting victims was a UO alumnus. Lawrence Levine, 67, the teacher in the classroom that was first attacked, received his B.A. at Oregon in 1969, and earned an M.F.A in 1972.

“My heart hurts for the lost potential and for the grieving loved ones they left behind,” Schill said.

Schill took the moment to note his disdain towards the frequency of mass shootings in American society.  He mentioned what he believes to be two important facts: that where there are more guns, there tends to be higher rates of homicide, and those jurisdictions with stricter gun control legislation are fewer gun-related deaths.  

“We must consider the connections between guns and violence. As a nation, and as a state, we must look at what the role the sheer volume of guns has, and what their access to people mean in regard to these mass shootings,” Schill said.

Robin Holmes, VP of Student Life, assured that the possession of firearms in the UO, or any of its controlled property is strictly prohibited, and if violated, that there is a university-wide plan in which to respond including UO and Eugene police.

“Possession of firearms in the University of Oregon campus, or any of our controlled property, is strictly prohibited,” Holmes said.

“It’s sort of acknowledging that everyone who attends a university has to acknowledge it’s a possibility,” Summer Ketchum, a student in attendance, said.

Pascoe invited the final speaker to the stand, Andiel Brown, instructor for the UO Gospel Choir. Without introduction, he began a gospel hymn.

“Were you there when they crucified my lord?”

People began to light their candles. From the edges of the audience, the flame was passed toward the center, everyone lighting the candle of the person next to them.

“Were you there when they crucified my lord?”

The sun had completely set. Slowly, a warm red light filled the amphitheater.

“Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble.”

By the time the hymn was over, every candle had been lit.

“We weren’t there when they were shot,” Brown said. “But they faced similar persecution for what they believed.” Brown then asked everyone who belonged to a religion, and who had friends practicing a different religion, to hold hands in solidarity. He had scrapped his original speech, deciding that a message of faith and solidarity needed to be urged.

“We will not persecute. We will not alienate. We will not discriminate anyone for their religion,” he said.

Brown stepped back, as the rest of the UO Gospel Choir joined him. Together they sang a hymn, asking the community to “pray for the USA.”

When the hymn was finished, a pastor from Northwest Christian University stood at the podium to lead the amphitheater in a moment of silence. A few minutes in, Pascoe thanked everyone for coming and stepped from the stage.

No one moved for several minutes. Everyone stood silent and still, each holding a candle. Slowly, people began to leave the amphitheater, their candles still aflame. A stream of flames funneled out of the amphitheater onto the street.

Andrew Field contributed to this article.

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Noah McGraw

Noah McGraw

Noah is the 2016-17 Senior News Editor at the Emerald. His earliest journalistic influences were Tom Wolfe, Eric Schlosser and Batman. He loves '70s comics, '80s action movies and '90s music.