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More than 20 Harvard students gathered on the steps of Memorial Church Thursday evening to mourn lives lost to gun violence this year, including three college students recently killed in a Feb. 13 shooting at Michigan State University.
Seven student speakers braved the falling snow to share anecdotes, words of hope, and an original song at the event hosted by Amnesty at Harvard.
Event co-organizer Kawsar Yasin ’26 said she is troubled by the frequency of gun violence she has seen growing up, particularly against people of color.
“I didn’t realize how desensitized I’d become to this until it started to happen at least twice, three times, four times every year from middle school all the way up until high school,” she said.
Referencing previous mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and El Paso, Texas, Kashish Bastola ’26 said young people have been “galvanized” by the “countless shootings that we have continuously endured every year.”
“I think that having vigils like these and spaces for us to come together, hear each other, and understand the ways that this epidemic and this public health crisis is impacting all of us is really important because this is not normal,” he said.
Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, who also helped organize the vigil, said the recent string of mass shootings across the country motivated her to create a dedicated campus space for students to mourn.
“So many of our communities have been affected in so many different ways,” Ahuja said, referring to the shootings. “To see it happen in Monterey, Half Moon, Michigan State, there hasn’t been a space for collective healing on our campus in the way that there really should be.”
The event was co-sponsored by an array of Harvard student organizations, from political organizations to campus affinity groups. Yasin said she was heartened by the broad coalition.
“I think it was really powerful to have a bunch of campus affinity groups, ranging from the Asian American Association, to Harvard Sikhs, to GAASA, as well as the queer organizations here,” she said. “I think that this kind of solidarity is not typically seen in the context of gun violence here.”
Ahuja also praised attendees for enduring below-freezing temperatures to turn out to the hour-long event.
“As chilly as it is, we thought it was important to still hold the space,” Ahuja said. “We just have a lot of love for everyone that came and showed their support and solidarity.”
—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.
—Staff writer John N. Peña can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @john_pena7.
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