The Stony Brook University Undergraduate Student Government and Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund led students in a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening for victims of the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut and around the world.
The vigil began at the Sidney Gelber Auditorium in the Student Activities Center, and students walked to the fountain outside of the Administration building where they lit electric tea lights and held a moment of silence.
“There was so much authentic humanity,” said Julian Pessier, Ph.D., the interim director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Stony Brook. “People were just letting themselves grieve the horror of the [Paris attacks].”
A series of coordinated shootings and suicide bombings and a hostage situation in Paris and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis, killed 129 people and left more than 400 others wounded on Nov. 13, according to BBC. In Beirut, a double suicide bombing killed around 43 and left more than 200 wounded on the same day, according to The New York Times. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both of these attacks. Victims of terror in Kenya, India, Tunisia and Pakistan were also remembered at the vigil.
Ecklund, chaplains of the Interfaith Center and professors like Elisabeth Spettel, a visiting scholar from Bordeaux Montaigne University in France, gave speeches. Spettel spoke about a close friend who was killed in the terror attack in Paris. She then read a poem she wrote in French.
“It’s for my friend but also all the innocents who are killed every day, everywhere,” Spettel said.
Mireille Rebeiz, an assistant professor of the Department of European Languages and Cultures, struggled to hold back tears as she spoke about the attacks.
“I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. I am Lebanese by birth, French by adoption, and American by marriage. I am a Christian from the Middle East, I’m born to be Jewish, and I’m wrapped in Islamic culture,” Rebeiz said. “Thank you all for including Beirut, my beloved city, in this vigil, in times where grief and outrage seem to be selective.”
Prayers for peace, for the victims and for an end to hatred were led by the Rev. Farrell Graves, associate chaplain of the Protestant Campus Ministry and Joanne Buonocore, the religious adviser for the Roman Catholic Campus Ministry.
Between speeches, a flutist and a violinist played melancholy music such as Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and the Stony Brook Pipettes sang a medley built around “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer and “Where is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas.
“I’ve always expressed myself through music, and I feel like it was the little bit that I can do to show my emotions and feelings on the whole situation that’s going on,” Alyssa Curcie, a senior chemistry major and member of the Pipettes, said.
At the fountain, Erynn Legna McLeod, a junior music major, sang “Amazing Grace” while many other students hummed along. Sister Sanaa Nadim, the chaplain of the Stony Brook Muslim Students Association, greeted the group and called everyone to “persevere united against the face of evil, wherever it is, whoever it is.”
“I’m not Muslim, but I felt really compelled to pray for the students for their safety because I know that on a lot of college campuses there have been a lot of Muslim students who have been attacked, targeted,” Nida Kuruvilla, a junior political science major, said.
“I suspect that Allah, or God, or whatever you want to call Him, is weeping for all the attacks done in His name,” Rebeiz said.