About 100 students gathered in front of Boston University’s George Sherman Union Monday night to commemorate the deaths of nearly 150 students on a college campus in Garissa, Kenya on Thursday.
Students for Justice in Palestine, the African Students Organization and the People of Color Coalition hosted the vigil, which was called “#148NotJustANumber: A Vigil for Kenya.”
Attendees stood in a circle with candles placed in the center and were silent for 148 seconds, each second representing the death of a student.
Afterward, Jose Godoy, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business and a member of SJP, opened the floor to any students who wanted to say words about the incident in Kenya. Several students spoke about their sadness for those who were harmed for pursuing an education in the same way that BU students were pursuing their educations.
Wangeci Ndirangu, a freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she attended the vigil because she has family from Kenya.
“It’s important because I feel as though BU is very diverse and we all come from all over the world, so there is at least one person who can relate to what has been going on,” she said.
Godoy, who helped organize the event, said it is important to recognize such a tragedy on college campuses. He said he was pleased by the number of people who attended and the positive response from other groups on campus.
“I was very impressed [with the turnout] because we, as an organization, started this yesterday night, and in a matter of one day, a lot people showed their interest and their support and their solidarity to what happened,” he said. “It’s a start. It’s good to see people caring so much about something that is such a big deal and showing that we are not OK with it.”
Ibraheem Samirah, a second-year post-graduate student in the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, said he came to the vigil to show his support because of his background.
“In solidarity for the victims and coming from a Palestinian background, we share a sympathy,” he said. “It is important to raise awareness on campus for students who generally don’t pay attention to news.”
Faridat Ilupeju, a freshman in the College of General Studies and a member of ASO, said she was happy that the vigil had such a large turnout.
“It was great that people at BU are able to identify and recognize that there is wrong in the world,” she said. “The event tonight was really important because it helps unify us as a community, and it helps us think in the same way. Maybe next time, we could do something bigger, more physical or on a more impactful level.”
Victoria Olakojo, a sophomore in Questrom and a member of ASO, said she wanted to be in the right mindset to fully appreciate the vigil.
“I tried to think of the event in terms of my own life. 148 people: that’s two floors in my building, that’s twice my high school graduating class,” she said. “I know some people are like, ‘OK what’s that going to do? You had some lights. You all stayed quiet for 148 seconds,’ but it’s how we’re going to feel after, [and] it’s the conversations that we’re going to have afterwards that matter.”