“I have a cousin that was washed away by the storm, and my mom and my other cousin just lost everything,” said Bernard Ferguson — an NYU graduate student from the Bahamas — to students and staff who gathered at the stairs of Kimmel Center for University Life to honor victims of Hurricane Dorian on Tuesday.
One of the strongest recorded hurricanes, Dorian began its destruction of the Bahamas on Sep. 1, when it levelled buildings, killed at least fifty people and left approximately 1300 others missing. Its intensity subsided once it reached the East Coast, but the Bahamas were left devastated.
Co-sponsored by a number of clubs and organizations, the vigil included prayers led by multiple spiritual leaders. The Bronfman Center — one of the co-sponsors — was represented by Senior Operations Associate Robert Taylor Jr.
“Our collective relationship to water is complicated,” said Taylor, who is also known for developing Queeribbean, an emerging theory in the fields of Queer and Ethnic Studies that explores the lives of LGBTQ Caribbean people. “This source of life has brought death, but in its beauty and power it has raged against the Bahamas.”
About 30 students attended the vigil compared to hundreds that attended those for the Poway Synagogue shooting, Sri Lanka bombing and New Zealand shooting victims.
“Even in natural disasters, black and brown bodies do not matter,” Christian Humanist Chaplain Natalie Perkins said at the vigil. “We are shown that time and time again. In Puerto Rico, with Hurricane Maria, in the Bahamas, with Hurricane Dorian. But these lives do matter. They matter to us.”
CAS senior and Student Senators Council Vice Chairperson Kosar Abdulquani said that the vigil provided an opportunity to reflect on the seriousness of Hurricane Dorian’s effects.
“Student government — alongside our cosponsors — are holding this vigil today to stand in solidarity with communities affected by Hurricane Dorian.” Abdulquani said. “During times like these, it is important to understand the gravity of the impacts that people are facing.”
CAS first-year Jailee Mendo said she came out to show support.
“As a Caribbean student, I identify with the Caribbean community and I will always love to show my support,” Mendo said. “It could happen to literally any island and we should know what we can do to help.”
SPS junior and member of the Catholic Center Aggie Dente said she hopes the vigil helped students affected.
“This event is important because we have a lot of students at NYU that are from the region of the world that has been affected,” Dente said. “Bringing the whole student body together in a place that’s really public like this makes the point that we are here to support them.”
Email Julia Baxley at [email protected].