by Bonnie H. Chuen
“We are joined together tonight in order to make a statement that we as faculty, staff and students and members of the La Verne community will not tolerate violence against anyone for any reason. We, at La Verne, want to let others know that we care about each other as members of the human race and that we appreciate the difference that diversity makes in a community and on campus.”
This was the underlying message of Dr. Deborah Burris-Kitchen, assistant professor of Sociology, during the welcoming message of the candlelight vigil sponsored by the Behavioral Science Club on Thursday, May 2 in the University quad.
According to Dr. Burris-Kitchen, the vigil was a “peaceful assimilation of people to celebrate their diversity.”
“I think it shows that there are members of the community who are dealing with the issue [of diversity] in a positive way,” said Dr. John Gingrich, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The first activity was a theater presentation and poetry reading led by Jane Dibbell, professor of theater arts.
“We are doing a short excerpt from [Approaching] Simone and singing some healing songs. We just want our voice to be heard in support,” said junior Stacey Williams.
A poem by Deena Metzger and a song by Robin Batty were presented by the cast of “Approaching Simone.”
Dorena Wright, assistant professor of English, then stood up and gave a short speech representing peace studies minors who are in support of non-violence.
Wright ended her speech with a quote by Walt Whitman to give the audience something to think about. She said, “Whoever degrades another also degrades me.”
Clubs, organizations and students then took turns at the microphone to speak out against violence.
Sophomore Nichole Mhoon urged students, especially Greeks, to “stand up and educate people about differences,” as well as to “fight against violence, racism and discrimination.”
The groups present included the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Union; Phi Theta Chi and Iota Delta sororities; Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities; and the Student Affairs staff.
Students, staff, faculty and community members then lined up, as pre-made signs and posters were unfurled for the march across campus.
The march, which was led by the Behavioral Science Club, began in the University quad and ended in front of the University Chapel.
Afterward, the participants gathered in a circle as candles were distributed. A litany was performed by Debbie Roberts, Protestant campus minister, and candles were lit.