On a cold Tuesday night, students, faculty and Montclair State University employees shivered and gathered together for a vigil. Everyone formed a vast circle of about 50 people in front of the Student Center and united to commemorate lives lost in recent tragedies in the news.
Tragedies have been scattered across the latest headlines, most prominently, Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which resulted in 11 deaths and multiple injuries. Just last week, two African-Americans in a Kentucky grocery store parking lot were shot and killed, and over a dozen packaged explosives were sent to political officials including former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Undeclared freshman Corinne Podolski believes that highlighting these tragedies brought the campus together.
“I think it’s important to bring attention to these events happening and to bring everyone together,” Podolski said. “Bring love together versus hate and anger.”
Rev. Jim Chern, director and chaplain of Newman Catholic Center, attended the event along with students from other religions and backgrounds.
Different speakers led the vigil, urging people to vote in the aftermath of these tragedies. People handed out tissues for those that were weeping and LED tea lights for those who wanted to display them in their windows at home.
Patrolwoman Amanda Rusticus of the University Police Department thinks unifying on campus is a good way to show support for the community.
“I believe it’s important to come together in this moment to allow our community to see that we are here for each other and everyone,” Rusticus said. “We need to provide support and make sure we start making positive changes by working together. We are here to keep all the families in our prayers.”
Assistant Director of Residence Life Hamal Strayhorn gave a speech about “the light” being the force of change for allies — something he said people should seek.
“I think it’s important for all of us to realize that we are part of humanity and that we’re all interconnected,” Strayhorn said.
Cantor Meredith Greenberg sang songs and played slow melodies on her guitar to fit the tone of the vigil. The crowd sang along with her and learned the meaning behind her songs.
Papers with the names of people who died in the Pittsburgh shooting were distributed. Volunteers went around in a circle to read off each name while providing a moment of silence for each victim announced.
An open forum also occurred, enabling students to share their thoughts if they wanted to.
“Hate cannot drive out darkness,” Strayhorn said during his speech. “Only light can do that.”