The flagpoles were lit up with hundreds of candles as approximately a thousand people gathered on Tuesday night to mourn the loss of the six people that passed last weekend in Santa Barbara. The six students: Katherine Breann Cooper, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, Veronika Weiss, Cheng Yuan Hong,Weihan Wang and George Chen, all attended UCSB.
After news spread about Friday night’s shooting, UC students across the system began organizing vigils at their respective UC schools. Every UC campus held a vigil this week, most hosting them on Monday or Tuesday night. A group of students at UCI started working on this event immediately, garnering over 2000 RSVPs on Facebook. The event was coordinated by a group of undergraduate students, including second-year literary journalism major Naaila Mohammed.
“When we first heard of what happened at UCSB, we immediately knew we had a duty to do something,” Mohammed said, “So Kevin Lam and I reached out to administration such as the CARE office and Student Life and Leadership as well as countless other organizations to make this event happen. We really wanted to be able to provide comfort for all of those affected by this traumatic event and provide a safe space for healing.”
This event was made possible with support from the CARE office, UCI Counseling Center, the Office of Student Affairs and donations from the on-campus Starbucks.
“We have been in contact with UCSB counseling since the tragic incident,” said Dr. Jeanne Manese, the director of the Counseling Center at UCI, “since it is an event that hits close to home for many, we wanted to bring awareness not only to the student community of UCSB but also students on the UCI campus.”
As attendees began to file in, the student organizers remarked that the turnout was so overwhelming that there weren’t enough candles for each person. The crowd that gathered at the vigil was large enough to spill over from the steps of the flagpoles to the floor and grass in the middle of the roundabout. After an opening from a few of the event coordinators, there was a moment of silence followed by an open mic for those that wanted to share words to commemorate the victims.
Students and faculty of UCI were not the only ones present at the event, UCSB alumni, community members, and friends of the victims attended as well. UCI students Sara Macleod and Anneliese Tung were amongst some of the several speakers that knew a victim. Macleod and Tung were classmates of the late Veronica Weiss at Westlake High School, the two shared stories about Weiss and how loved she was at their high school. Some in attendance also gave speeches about Chris Martinez and Katherine Cooper.
Michael Sharp, a third-year mechanical and aerospace engineering double major, shared his thoughts on the events that transpired.
“I personally don’t know anyone from UCSB or the surrounding area, but I still wanted to come to show my support; to show that they are not alone,” Sharp said.
A UCSB alumna, Ashley Jacobs gave an emotional statement as a former Gaucho.
“I first heard about this event through Facebook,” she explained, “and I knew I had to come out. It means so much not only to myself being a UCSB alumna, but to everyone back home. It’s great to see UCI and the entire UC system bind together in solidarity, it shows how strong the community really is.”