UNC Student Senate hosted a candlelight vigil
Students, faculty and staff gathered at the Garden Theatre to issue a statement of solidarity. (The Mirror/Alex Nunley)

Student Senate hosted a candlelight vigil to honor those affected by the recent events in Charlottesville and on The University of Virginia’s campus.

The vigil that took place at 7:15 pm. on Aug. 30 at the Garden Theatre included a welcoming, the lighting of candles, a moment of silence, a prayer and several guest speakers.

The events at the University of Virginia turned violent after a group of white supremacists protested the removal of former Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s statue. The protest resulted in one death and injured approximately 35 other people.

The candlelight vigil was a joint collaboration through Student Senate, Aims Community College and the police officers, said Student Body President Kevion Ellis.

“We just want to show unity,” Ellis said. “How can we come together as one community?”

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According to Ellis, the student senate chose their guest speakers by deciding “who could represent everyone as a community.”

Jennifer Soule-Hill, the co-pastor of Family of Christ Presbyterian Church, was invited to be a guest speaker and lead a prayer for the audience.

“Our light’s raised in memory to honor the victims of violence in Charlottesville, and the victims of hate anywhere, and victims of white supremacy everywhere,” Soule-Hill said.

Several student speeches and a joint statement between UNC Chief-of-Police Dennis Pumphrey, and Chief Jerry Garner of the Greeley Police Department followed the prayer.

“Through your actions tonight with the commitment towards resolving issues in a peaceful manner with nonviolent protests, you showed the best of the American ideal and the values of the country in which we live in,” Pumphrey said.

Senior Co-President of Spectrum, Harrison Pettis, a senior political science major, attended the candlelight vigil to show his support for the community. Spectrum is an organization that recognizes and celebrates gender and sexual minorities.

“Hatred being spewed at UVA is similar and across the country is similar to the kinds of things faced by the queer community,” Pettis said. “It’s all one struggle, and we may all experience these struggles differently. But if I don’t show up for them, how can I expect them to show up for me?”

Megan Meyer helped to conclude the vigil by giving the audience a list of resources at and outside of UNC. Several cultural centers are available at UNC, including the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, the César Chávez Cultural Center, and the Asian Pacific American Student Services. Off campus, the Global Refugee Center and the Rodarte Community Center are other resources available to use.

The UVA Candlelight Vigil concluded with Debbie Rhoads, a staff member from the UNC Office of Financial Aid, leading the audience in the song, “This Little Light of Mine.”

Amber Fletcher contributed to this article.

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