The College of Arts and Sciences held a remembrance space for members of the University community Friday in honor of the approaching one-year anniversary of the Nov. 13 shooting that left three students dead — football players and University students Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry — and two others injured. Instead of holding a formal program, the event offered 90 minutes of open space in Old Cabell Hall for students and faculty to reflect, commune and cope.
Tables of candles, drawing sheets, student-made memory votives and notes greeted those walking into the auditorium. Some of these commemorative materials were organized by the College, while others were from Student Health and Wellness and focused on both mental health and societal health.
“Members of our community have had and will have differing experiences and differing responses to the events on Grounds a year ago that bring us to this space,” a statement of intention posted on the wall read. “Please be compassionate and extend them the courage and grace that we all need. Be gentle with yourself and with each other.”
In keeping with this message, the University’s Faculty and Employee Assistance Program and Counseling and Psychological Services had small stations extending several different resources to those struggling to cope or seeking help. The two groups offered brochures, handouts and resource sheets that presented information ranging from how to schedule appointments on Grounds to general tips on dealing with grief and loss.
Grief listeners and counselors from the two groups stayed present to support people, as well as direct those seeking additional guidance to helpful outside resources.
Inside the auditorium, candles lined the aisles and votives were left on the stage. An open microphone and podium stood on the stage next to two signs that read “come speak as you feel moved.” Whether through silence or discussion, the event encouraged several coping mechanisms, embracing diverse emotional responses to the tragedy from different people. As several students and faculty members came and went, some spoke to one another while others participated in a few moments of silence along with other participants.
“Participants [were] invited to sit quietly to reflect and commune and to make use of a designated area to voice their feelings, frustrations, hopes, remembrances and aspirations,” according to an email sent out by the College.
The University had additional commemoration events planned in the coming days, including the tolling of the University Chapel’s bells, several open conversations and a panel discussion involving Happy Perry, mother of D’Sean Perry. The Chapel bells will play “Amazing Grace” and toll three times for each life lost. Members of the public can watch this observance here.