The College Democrats held a candlelight vigil, Tuesday evening, in front of Sykes Student Union in honor of the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives last year in the Virginia Tech shooting.Although the Virginia Tech anniversary is on April 16, the vigil would have interfered with the Women’s Center’s annual “Take Back the Night” rally. Therefore, College Democrats were forced to reschedule the vigil for April 15.
There were 12 people in attendance, in contrast with the approximately 800 people last year, according to some upperclassmen. During the vigil, students were encouraged to discuss what was on their minds regarding the topic. Fears seemed to be the most prevalent discussion among the students.
“Whenever I leave a building on campus, I always call someone on my cell phone or get an escort back to my dorm,” one female said. Two other females commented and said that they follow a similar routine.
Students also expressed fear with the recent headlines made by Florida legislature in allowing the residents to take guns to work. They feared that one day college students would be allowed to carry guns, as some gun lobbyists are pressing.
The Brady Campaign is a movement to attain stricter gun laws. According to their campaign, the gun lobbies have been making efforts to allow college students to have guns on campus and arm public school teachers with them.
West Chester University’s current code of conduct forbids any sort of weapon on campus.
Students also referenced the incident at Main Hall last semester which increased their fear. They praised the text messaging system that West Chester University has put into action.
“I had a friend in a class at Main Hall that night and all I kept doing was texting her to make sure she was okay,” One senior student said. “We can’t take anything as a joke anymore, especially with all of the safety alerts. I have never read so many safety alerts in one year.”
“There has definitely been a significant increase in the safety alerts,” another student added.
“We’re supposed to be getting an education, but now we’re busy worrying about our safety,” an additional student said.
One of the students in attendance was from Virginia and knew two of the victims murdered that lived in the same town as them.
“It’s nice to see the support – the cards, the videos, and the statement that ‘We are all Hokies’,” she said. “You can count on people who don’t even know you.”
Some students discussed teaching moral education in the classrooms at a younger age in order to prevent something like this happening, but was quickly dismissed because of parent involvement.
“It’s just ridiculous,” one student said. “This [The Virginia Tech shootings] shouldn’t have happened. We could have done something and prevented this.”
On April 16, OCCA gave out donuts with maroon and orange icing as well as ribbons in honor of the one year anniversary on the corner of South Church St. and West Rosedale Ave.
“I hope they’re recovering well and trying to put it behind them,” said Paul Tamke, treasurer of OCCA.
Jenn Halligan is a first-year student majoring in secondary English education with a minor in Spanish. She can be reached at JH653435@wcupa.edu.