Students stood with quiet reverence and held white candles and multicolored carnations as a symbol of goodwill and friendship during SpectrUM’s Anti-Hate Candlelight Vigil Thursday night.
The candlelight vigil, supported by other student organizations such as Random Acts of Kindness, United Black Students and Student Government, was one of SpectrUM’s Coming-Out Week events, and was organized to commemorate victims of race, religion, sexual orientation and sexual identity-related hate crimes.
Patricia A. Whitely, vice president of Student Affairs, opened the vigil with a discussion of Matthew Sheppard, the University of Ohio student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 by a group of men who picked him up from a bar.
The discussion expanded from prejudice on college campuses to focus on topics relating to worldwide prejudices.
Robyn Fisher, the rabbinical director at Hillel Jewish Center, was also a guest speaker at the event and recounted her travels to Poland. Fisher made parallels between the prejudice against Jews during the Holocaust to prejudice against homosexuals.
Other speakers included Frank Corbishley, chaplain at the Episcopal Church Center, and Islamiyat Nancy Adebisi, president of United Black Students.
“Prejudice is not a feeling reserved for different nationalities but also religion and sexual orientation,” Adebisi said.
Some students who attended the vigil, such as senior Alexander Orantes, thought the vigil was important because “it reminds people that hate for others still exists, and although it may not happen to you directly, it is important to stand up for others.”
Ashleyann Gosselin may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.