Friends request Second Year Council paint over Hannah Graham Beta Bridge message

'I think it's time,' third-year College student Jenna Van Dyck says

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Three words painted across Beta Bridge helped to keep hope alive for 35 days: Bring Hannah Home.

Now more than two weeks since second-year College student Hannah Graham’s body was found, Second Year Council painted over the message Wednesday night, covering the cursive scrawl with a thick layer of neutral-toned paint at the request of Graham’s friends.

Photo: Abraham Axler

“I think it’s time,” said Graham’s friend Jenna Van Dyck, a third-year College student. “Beta Bridge is for everyone, all U.Va. students, and we’ve had our time on it and communicated our message. Now it’s time for it to be back to the use of U.Va. students.”

Van Dyck and other close friends initially painted the bridge the week after Graham’s Sept. 13 disappearance. With the confirmation that a memorial will be constructed at Graham’s high school in Fairfax, she said the bridge has served its temporary purpose.

Graham’s parents held out hope for their daughter’s safe return until her remains were officially identified Oct. 24.

"When we started this journey together we all hoped for a happier ending," the Grahams said in a statement that day. “Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her."

Van Dyck said the Grahams were touched by the message painted on Beta Bridge.

“They’re really, really sweet and strong people,” she said. “I’m in contact with them, not as regularly as I was, but I still chat with them, and they’re holding up.”

A student memorial for Graham, constructed by Student Council and Second Year Council Oct. 26, remains standing in front of the Whispering Wall.

Second Year Council President Abraham Axler, a College student, said the memorial will likely be taken down by the end of the month. Previously, he said the memorial would be up “as long as it needs to be.”

“I think there comes a time where we move in tragedy from our initial reaction to how it is permanently going to stay with us,” Axler said. “We’re now reflecting on ourselves and how we’re going to deal with this going forward.”

Van Dyck said she, along with Graham’s other friends, are thankful the University community left the bridge painted this long.

“Hannah would want other students to be able to show their U.Va. pride by painting the bridge,” she said. “It’s time to give the bridge space to other U.Va. students.”

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