The image of a somber, darkened tower will shine through the night of May 5 as the UT community embraces one another in honor of the 216 Longhorns lost over the past year but never forgotten.
UT Remembers, a University-wide day of remembrance for members of the UT community who died over the past year, will be hosted by the UT Cares Committee and take place throughout the day, with events including a flag lowering ceremony, grief counseling, commemorative chiming of the bell tower and the darkening of the tower.
“It’s a way to pay tribute to the people who have been a part of what makes the campus run, whether it is someone in the facility services or someone who works in the president’s office,” said Doug Bolin, associate director for University Events and member of the UT Cares committee. “The program is set up to honor each of them individually and on the same level.”
The event was started in 1998 to provide an opportunity for the University to invite family and friends of those who have passed to take part in the day of remembrance for their lost loved ones on the last Friday of the spring semester.
Psychology and neuroscience senior Kevin Helgren, former student body president, said the Longhorn community can really benefit from an event like this as they work together to overcome the recent tragedy on campus.
“The unfortunate reality is that we lose members of our community more often than we’d like to,” Helgren said. “In fact, it is a particularly relevant plane just because we experienced a tremendous loss three days ago.”
This commemoration, Helgren said, will be an opportunity for Longhorns not only to find comfort in one another, but also to stand together in strength.
“There is a whole lot of strength in community, there is a whole lot of strength in solidarity,” Helgren said. “The only silver lining that comes with any tragedy is the fact that the community really does recognize and act upon the importance of coming together and leaning on each other.”
Urban studies sophomore Sylvia Feghali, former roommate of Haruka Weiser, one of the lives being honored in the ceremony, said she feels this event is important because it allows students and loved ones to gather in a supportive environment to truly remember the people behind the list of names.
“It is very powerful knowing someone for who they were and not just how they passed or how they died or how they were taken,” Feghali said. “It means you have a deeper understanding for what that person was and the memories they have left behind.”
For Feghali, seeing the community come together in this fashion is not only comforting, but is also a way to remember the lives of lost loved ones rather than focusing on the fact that they are gone.
“It is important that the University has these spaces allocated so that people can grieve or celebrate life in the ways that they need,” Feghali said. “I know I need that space too.”
Feghali said this event allows people to take a moment out of the day’s busy schedule and mourn the loss of their loved ones, as well as reflect on the legacies of those honored.
She said the University providing a space for students to do this ensures a more supportive environment than if students simply came together on their own.
“I hope that it will be a way that people will not just gloss over the events that have happened recently or in the past,” Feghali said. “It is very easy on campus to get caught up with our own personal lives and put up blinders to everything else, but this is the kind of event that reminds us of our place and just the greater context of where we live and what we do every day.”