Thursday evening, students, faculty and other members of the Auburn Family gathered in Foy Hall for a unity service remembering the victims of the Orlando mass shooting.
The service was organized by Venus Hewing, a diversity student advocate for the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. She also had some help from some Auburn students. Together, they had less than two days to set everything up.
“I want us to reflect," Hewing said. "I want us to see how we can make a difference in the world, in terms of taking that first step to unite."
Many speakers voiced their opinions on the shooting, which happened a gay nightclub in Orlando last Sunday. One of them was Asim Ali, who works at the Office of the Associate Provost.
“It shouldn’t need to be said, but we Muslims unequivocally say that such an act of hate-fueled violence has no place in any faith, including Islam,” Ali said. “As many of my Muslim friends say, the laws that allow Muslims to practice freely in America are the same laws that allow the LGBT community to practice their freedoms.”
Members of Spectrum, Auburn’s gay-straight alliance, also attended and spoke on behalf of the LGBT community.
“This attack occurred in what is called a ‘safe space,'” said Erin Walker, director of Spectrum’s political affairs. “And now people who live in the city have two options, to continue to show up, which takes courage, or stop coming."
Religion was a talking point for some as well. Speakers like SGA President Jesse Westerhouse focused on Christianity to look for clarity in this act of violence.
Max Zinner, a former officer and now adviser for Spectrum, shared his views as an atheist.
“We may have some different beliefs, which lead us into dealing with this tragedy in different ways,” Zinner said. “Morality is a human characteristic that is not tied to any one ideology.”
One speaker turned to poetry as a form of expression. Auburn women's basketball player Bria Johnson read a poem she wrote expressing her reaction to the shooting, and Walker performed on guitar while the auditorium gathered and sang Michael Jackson's “We Are the World.”