Several hundred members of the Union community gathered at the steps of Memorial Chapel Wednesday afternoon to remember the 10 lives lost in the racially motivated rampage in Buffalo and to speak out against hate.
“It is a privilege to stand before you as our Union community speaks out against the horrors of last weekend,” said Deidre Hill Butler, associate professor of sociology and chief diversity officer, in opening the vigil. The event was organized by the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the Black Student Union, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
Students lit candles and held two minutes of silence in remembrance of the shooting victims.
Nadiyah Roberts-Green, program coordinator for Intercultural Affairs, presented a stirring reflection poem.
Sonia Sandoval ’16, learning experience designer, asked attendees to “channel what we feel into action” and to “take personal responsibility to say something anytime you see injustice.”
“You don’t have to save the day and do something dramatic,” she said. “Just say ‘no.’ We can end all of this. It doesn’t have to be forever. Today, Union College says ‘no.’”
Speakers also included Ashley German Soto ’24 and Ebyan Abshir ’24, Black Student Union co-presidents; Ayah Osman ’24, BSU PR chair; Peter D’Agata ’25, president of Union Hillel; Talha Mushtaq ’23, treasurer of Muslim Student Association; and Harry Berger ’23, president of Chabad. José Moreno de Los Santos ’24 offered a prayer.
Local clergy included Pastor Nicolle Harris of Duryee Memorial AME Zion Church and Pastor Richard Moran Jr. of Bethel AME Church.
Unglid Paul ’22 and Yalena Martinez ’22 concluded the vigil by leading a singing of “Amazing Grace.”
In a video message earlier on Wednesday, President David Harris urged the Union community to “commit deeply to knowledge-based action.
“We cannot change what we do not understand or are unwilling to confront,” he said. “Together we can and must develop every member of this community to lead against hate with wisdom, empathy and courage in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows. It’s core to our long-held institutional values. It’s core to our humanity.”