CHULA VISTA, CALIF. – The Southwestern College community gathered Tuesday for a candle light vigil organized by the Associated Student Organization (ASO) in honor of the Orlando shooting victims. Students, staff, faculty, administrators and community members came together for a moment of silence as the college community reflected on the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that killed 49 people.
Before the moment of silence, members of the ASO passed around candles for each member in the audience. One by one, the audience helped light each other’s candle as ASO senator Roy Castillo read aloud the names of every person who was killed in the Orlando nightclub.
ASO President Mona Dibas, who helped organize the event, introduced each speaker before offering her own messages of hope and condolences to the victims and their families.
“In this time of hatred and violence, it our duty to love,” Dibas said. “So let’s unite and fight this with love.”
Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish praised the ASO for their efforts in organizing the vigil and reinforcing a message of inclusivity for the entire campus.
“Today we come together to embrace the diversity we have at Southwestern College,” Nish said. “We stand with our brothers, sisters, our LGBTQ community and their wide network of support to fight hate and intolerance.”
Each speech was made in front of a rainbow-colored “#WeAreOrlando” banner, a sign Dr. Nish called a powerful message of the campus’ unity. After the speeches, members of the audience wrote their own messages of love and condolences on the banner. The banner remains on the Student Center as a reminder of the college’s compassion for the victims.
Governing Board President Nora E. Vargas said that holding the vigil on campus is an important way for Southwestern College to stand united against all prejudices.
“Today and every day we are committed to a campus and community that is inclusive and respectful of all,” Vargas said.