By Jillian Baker
At 8 a.m. on Oct. 4, members of the KU community gathered by the flagpole outside of Schaeffer Auditorium for a moment of silence in honor of the victims in the Las Vegas shooting.
President Kenneth Hawkinson spoke softly to the students, faculty, staff and community about not being with their family during hard times. “We like to think that we are a family for all our students, as well as for our faculty, staff and our community,” said Hawkinson.
KU student Cara Long raised the idea of holding the moment of silence event.
“I hope that you feel comfort today and I know that because of your idea that many others will feel comfort today,” said Hawkinson.
“Sadly, we’ve had to do this too many times. We do this every year for 9/11, we did this for Paris, we did this for Orlando and now we’re doing it for Las Vegas,” Hawkinson said.
Hawkinson questioned why tragedies such as the Las Vegas shooting happen and the shooter, Stephen Paddock’s motive, which remains unknown. “As of now we still don’t know why this happened and it’s disconcerting. It throws us off balance because when you don’t know why, it could happen anywhere and we don’t feel safe. That’s why it’s so important that we come together as a community at these times so we feel safe together.”
“And I want you to know that you are safe here at Kutztown University. We do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our students and our community, as a whole.”
Hawkinson encouraged everyone to bow their heads and “say yes to life.” Before the moment of silence, Hawkinson gave the group an opportunity to speak. A woman shared her story of her brother being in Las Vegas during the tragic event, in which he hid in a parking garage for two hours.
Corryn St. Thomas, KU sophomore thanked the sensitivity of professors during the time the news of the tragedy was unfolding. “A lot of my professors addressed it and opened it up for discussion,” she said. St. Thomas said she felt more comfortable that her professors addressed the event and were trying to find ways to help.
Hawkinson complimented the work of the professors at KU. “Our professors are so much more than repositories of knowledge. They also are caring, very considerate human beings and I think that in these situations they are able to pivot and think about the needs of their students,” he said.
Long, who reached out to Hawkinson, thanked everyone for coming. “I don’t have a personal connection, other than the fact that I was just really upset about the cruelty and I reached out hoping that I could bring comfort to other people that were feeling the uncertainty, pain and sadness that I was feeling,” she said.
“It’s the moments of silence that are times of reflection,” said Hawkinson. “Perhaps bow our heads and use the moment for reflection, for pray[er], for meditation or whatever method you find that works for you to remember those have been lost.”
Everyone bowed their heads for the moment of silence to remember the victims from the Las Vegas shooting which took place on Oct. 1.