In remembrance of the 142 students at Garissa University College in Kenya who were killed by terrorists on April 2, students gathered in the Kimmel Center for University Life for a vigil Monday night. More than one hundred students proceeded to Washington Square Park after the event to light candles in honor of the lost lives.
Islamic, Buddhist and Christian university chaplains led members of all faiths in prayer, followed by moving speeches from students and faculty members.
Buddhist chaplain Doyeon Park said students should not dwell on religious differences and instead should focus on honoring the dead. Park added that all students must share the pain of this loss.
“It is time now for all of us to gather and open our hearts in solidarity,” Park said. “We need to let go of all these labels so that we can really meet heart to heart.”
The gunmen began by storming a Christian prayer service and moved throughout the university, killing any non-Muslim students they found. Kenyan police have now arrested five suspects in connection to the attack by Al-Shabaab militants. A total of 147 people were killed and another 104 were injured in the wake of explosions and gunfire on the university’s campus.
Associate Director of Africa House and Kenyan native Eddie Mandhry represented his countrymen and women. Mandhry said it is important to stand together in solidarity and to live in peace and dignity.
“In times of great adversity, we are afforded the opportunity to redefine what it means to be a global citizen,” Mandhry said. “Working collectively, we can challenge extremism and stand up for the values that we all believe in.”
CAS sophomore Julianna Corbett first proposed the idea of holding a vigil to commemorate the fallen students and worked in conjunction with the Black Student Union and the African Student Union to organize the event. Corbett said something needed to be done to recognize these Kenyan students, and said she was willing to take the first step.
“It’s absolutely frightening that although most members of the NYU community are aware of the attacks that have happened a couple of weeks ago, many have forgotten,” Corbett said. “It is the NYU community’s duty, as those living, to remember their lives as similar to our own and respect the fact that we are still carrying on our lives today, with little interruption.”
Corbett added that the vigil will help NYU students realize how much they share with the Kenyan students.
“We are all students,” Corbett said. “We are as much them as they are us. Hopefully, students can walk away from this knowing that these lives cannot be forgotten like they have been for the past two weeks by the rest of the world.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 14 print edition. Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]