The Office of Multicultural Student Engagement created a space for the Wayne State community in a dialogue and vigil on June 13 to remember the victims of the mass shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub on June 12.
The private dialogue allowed students to connect with classmates and faculty in an effort to turn emotions and frustrations into positive action on campus and beyond.
Cara Mitrano, co-leader of the GLBTA Student Union, said the OMSE and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion invited her organization and the Muslim Student Association to take part in the event and stand in solidarity with each other and with the victims.
“I think it’s important to show Wayne State students and the Detroit community that Wayne State, as a body, is coming together in support of the LGBT community and that they recognize that the event happened,” she said.
While the dialogue initiated a strong sense of community, Marquita Chamblee, Ph.D., the provost of Diversity and Inclusion, summed up the feelings of the crowd upon gathering.
“I can’t say I’m so glad to see you all here frankly. This is the third dialogue that we’ve convened, the second one that we’ve convened in response to tragic shootings,” she said.
“I’d been here at Wayne State less than six months and we convened a dialogue after the Charleston shootings almost a year ago next week, I think. So in that regard, we don’t want to be here. But I think it’s important for us to be here as a campus community to express, for some of us, our deep sorrow.”
Following the dialogue, attendees lifted purple carnations in the air as each of the 49 victims were saluted by name and age during an outdoor vigil.
Chair of the Philosophy Department John Corvino, Ph.D., reminded students of the strengths WSU has moving forward as an educational institution.
“We are a university community. We’re a place of learning. We’re a place where we should reject simplistic answers and fear-mongering and hate-mongering, and stereotyping and hatred, and seek deeper meaning and truth and nuance and careful thoughts.”
He closed the vigil emphasizing the importance of grieving appropriately and in time, creating a conversation on action that excludes no one.
“We at Wayne State are a diverse community: a community of diverse faiths, races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations and gender identities. We are diverse in diverse ways and that’s one of the most wonderful things about being here, one of the most illuminating things about being here. It’s one of the things that gives me the most hope about our campus,” he said.
“We’ll have a better conversation about these issues when the time is right for those conversations. When we do that, we won’t do it with hate. We won’t do it with fear. We won’t do it with stereotyping. We’ll do it with the sensitivity and the thoughtfulness that marks who we are as the Wayne State community.”