The sun set on a cold Monday afternoon on the University of Nevada, Reno campus as the vigil began. A large number of students and faculty gathered outside of the Joe Crowley Student Union to pay their respects to the faculty members who lost their lives in last week’s shooting on the UNLV campus.
This is the second vigil that was held on the university campus following the tragedy. Another vigil was held last week the day after the shooting and was organized by students via social media and held at the Mackay statue on the quad.
The UNR Student Vocal Ensemble gathered near the stage while people were given candles in small plastic cups to hold during the program.
The shooting claimed the lives of UNLV faculty members Patricia Navarro-Velez, Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang and Naoko Takemaru. One other person was critically injured, but is currently stable. The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.
Boris Guerra, Associated Students of the University of Nevada president and an organizer of the event shared a few words of condolences at the start of the vigil.
“Our heartbreak for the UNLV community and this vigil is a symbol of love,” said Guerra in his speech. “It means a lot seeing a lot of the Wolf Pack community out here supporting our Nevada students.”
Guerra explained how it had a strong impact on him personally.
“It’s scary because we were just at UNLV a couple days before for the Board of Regents meeting,” said Guerra. “There’s so many school shootings it’s sad that we’ve become so desensitized to it.”
Olivia Ngo, public relations director for ASUN took the stage following Guerra’s speech and performed Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift. The vocal ensemble performance followed Ngo’s, while the crowd remained silent throughout both performances.
Emily Guijarro was one of the students showing support. Guijarro is from Las Vegas and said her mom knew one of the victims.
“I feel like this was the least I could do,” she said. “I also had friends who were there when everything happened.”
Guijarro says she is feeling uneasy after the events at UNLV.
“I’m kind of scared to go to classes now,” she said. “I know our campus is pretty safe, but it’s scary knowing that it could happen here.”
Brian Sandoval, president of the university was unable to attend the vigil as he is recovering from COVID-19, but Shannon Ellis, vice president of student services spoke on his behalf.
“We will still continue to promote life-changing education here in Reno and down in Las Vegas. but we’re never going to be quite the same because our sisters and brothers down south have suffered,” said Ellis. “Attending this vigil, this remembrance, is a piece of weaving this tragedy into through your personal narrative”
Guerra concluded the vigil by thanking everyone for coming and said it meant a lot for the UNR community to come together to grieve.
The University is encouraging students to seek support if they need it and are providing resources for students and faculty. Additionally, an active assailant training is being held in the Joe Crowley Student Union on Wednesday.
Nick Stewart can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @nickk_stewart.