Thousands attend candlelight vigils held across the state to commemorate Isla Vista victims
Multiple UC campuses held candlelight vigils this past week to commemorate the six UCSB students who lost their lives in the Isla Vista massacre last Friday night.
The vigils held at UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley and UC Davis have attracted thousands of students in total, and were designed to help students across the University of California honor the victims of Friday night’s tragedy.
According to UC San Diego chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s chief of staff Clare Kristofco, approximately 500 people attended UCSD’s candlelight vigil to show support for the victims’ close ones and the UCSB community.
“UC San Diego shares the grief all in the University of California feel as a result of the brutal actions that took the lives of six UCSB students,” Kristofco said in an email. “Our students keenly felt the sorrow of these deaths, and within a matter of hours, organized the candlelight vigil and remembrance on Sunday evening.”
Kristofco said the vigil allowed students to participate in an expression of community and caring as one family united in the UC system, and as Friday night’s tragedy had a “ripple effect” beyond UCSB’s campus.
“A tragedy of this magnitude underscores the importance of providing opportunities for everyone in the University of California community to come together to share our grief and reflect on such a profound loss,” Kristofco said in an email.
Kristofco said members of the UCSD community will continue to sympathize with those at the Santa Barbara campus. In addition, UCSD’s Chancellor Khosla extended his sympathies to Chancellor Henry T. Yang.
“UC San Diego shares the profound sense of loss that this tragedy has cast upon the University of California community,” Kristofco said in an email. “The families of the slain students are uppermost in our thoughts and prayers … We want to convey our deepest sympathy at this time of sorrow.”
According to Kevin Lam, fourth-year chemical engineering major and organizer of UC Irvine’s vigil, the violent tragedy has shaken the UCI community because many UCI students have personal connections to students at their sister campus, UCSB.
The candlelight vigil helped students who have been trying to cope with “heavy hearts,” Lam said.
“We often hear about violence and tragedies, but they are usually somewhere else in the country. To have this violence not only occur in California, but at a fellow UC campus, it really hits home for a lot of UCI students,” Lam said. “Many of us have family and friends at UCSB, so there are a lot of heavy hearts around campus right now”
Lam said the candlelight vigil opened up a place of healing for students and sparked discussions regarding how to prevent future tragedies of a similar nature.
“As we proceed with our healing process, I’m really interested in reframing the conversations around the incident to address the root of this problem, which is the fact that it was misogyny,” Lam said. “I think that’s the next step if we want to continue to honor the victims of this violence.”
UCI second-year marine biology major Shelby Wong said she was moved witnessing the number of students participating in the Irvine vigil.
“To see hundreds of students come out and support each other and show their love towards others was extremely touching,” Wong said. “To know that there is a large safety net of people who are willing to go out their way for others is what helps build the community stronger.”
Jimmy Tran, UC Santa Cruz third-year electrical engineering major and co-organizer of the UCSC vigil, said some UCSC students knew the victims and could deeply empathize with UCSB students.
“A number of students here at UC Santa Cruz knew the victims, some personally, and some through other people. And I know a lot of us can relate to these students,” Tran said. “When one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. And so by extension, when UCSB is hurting and going through pain, so do we at UCSC.”
According to UC Davis vigil organizer Sasha Kasper, a second-year English and neurobiology double-major, the incident on Friday night has left the UCD campus in shock.
Kasper said many UCD students felt the impact of Friday’s mass killings and want UCSB students to know they will continue to support those near the tragedy.
“It is a time for healing and recovery for all of us,” Kasper said in an email. “UC Davis sends all our love and support to our sister campus of UCSB and the Isla Vista community.”