UCF students, community honor Oregon victims at vigil
The College Democrats at UCF held a vigil in front of the Reflecting Pond to honor the victims of the deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Video by: Marina Guerges, Central Florida Future
UCF students, faculty, local committee members and activists gathered Monday evening to pay their respects to the victims of the deadly shooting that occurred Oct. 1 at Umpqua Community College in southern Oregon.
Members of College Democrats at UCF held a candlelight vigil in front of the UCF Reflecting Pond at 7 p.m., handing candles to attendees and organizing speakers to deliver speeches.
The organizer and president of College Democrats, Nikki Mariutto, said she hopes the vigil will accomplish two things: to help students cope with the news and raise awareness about the Florida legislature that would allow students with the proper concealed-carry licenses to carry guns on campus.
"I know, me personally, it was very hard when I heard about the shooting. I feel like it was only yesterday we were mourning lives from another shooting that just happened," she said.
Mariutto began the vigil with a speech, which included the lighting of a candle while she read the names of the shooting victims, followed by a moment of silence.
Other speakers joined Mariutto, including students and Kathryn Grant, a member of The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, which is a national campaign that urges colleges and universities across the country to band together and oppose guns on campuses.
Students expressed how the Oregon shooting affected them emotionally and on a personal level.
"It breaks my heart because it could have easily been my college ... my friends, my family," sophomore health service administration major Jesse Rubens said. "We're seeing these incidents happen over and over again, and nothing is being done."
Former UCF professor Robert Brigham, who taught mathematics in 1970, attended the candlelight to pay his respects and support students who are opposed to having guns on campus.
"I wish more and more would get involved and complain about the situation ... then maybe legislatures would listen," he said. "As a professor, I would have been very nervous having students and professors have guns in class."
Mariutto said she thinks guns on campus is an issue that is happening often and targeting different campuses, and something needs to be done.
"That could be us one day if we don't do something about it, and that's what scares me," she said. "We need to stand up or else we're kind of doomed to repeat ourselves."
Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.