Wednesday, January 29

Vigils help UCLA community commemorate lives lost to gun violence

Students mourned professor William Klug and other victims of gun violence at vigils Thursday and Friday. (Kelly Ma/Daily Bruin)

The plain night sky above Bruin Plaza was lit by hundreds of candlelights Thursday.

Students held the candles in silence, mourning professor William Klug, who was killed in a murder-suicide Wednesday. The event was also held a day after National Gun Violence Awareness Day for victims of gun violence.

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences held a vigil Friday afternoon. Chancellor Gene Block and several colleagues spoke about their experiences with Klug.

The undergraduate student government and the graduate student government held another vigil Thursday. Students, faculty, administrators and local leaders attended, including Los Angeles city mayor, Eric Garcetti.

After speeches, there was a moment of silence for victims of gun violence.

USAC cultural affairs commissioner Amy Shao, then asked people to stand in a circle and hold hands. People stepped into the center to share their thoughts and experiences with Wednesday’s incident and gun violence.

Selina Che, a second-year business economics student who attended the vigil said she wanted to stand in solidarity with the campus and find comfort among other Bruins.

“I’m surprised by how many students are here, especially in the midst of finals,” Che said. “It really shows the strength of our community.”

Che said she thinks the spread of misinformation during the campus shooting caused a lot of panic. She added she thinks students should find confirmed sources and not listen to rumors spread by social media in the future.

Prashant Bala, a first-year business economics student, said he thinks the murder-suicide stemmed from mental health problems and that more mental health services should be provided to people.

“I know UCLA did its best, but if someone reached out to the (shooter) before, a friend or something, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Bala said.

He added the stories people shared at the vigil helped instill a sense of community.

Student leaders at the vigil also made statements about the changes they plan to make on campus in light of the murder-suicide.

USAC council members organized the vigil to bring the community together as soon as possible, said Danny Siegel, USAC president and third-year political science student.

Siegel added the support students and faculty received from across the country demonstrates that the UCLA community extends beyond the campus.

Other UC campuses, including UC Irvine and UC Riverside, are also holding vigils for professor Klug.

Siegel said he thinks students and administrators should discuss student safety and address questions about door locks, BruinAlert’s effectiveness, and preparing for active shooter situations.

He added this incident should encourage UCLA to lead a conversation about gun violence for the country.

Garcetti spoke at the vigil about campus safety.

“One thing I would encourage is not to shut a campus down,” Garcetti said. “It has to stay open. Part of making sure there is a secure campus is to make sure people can (feel free).”

He added LAPD was prepared to make improvements for campus safety.

Dayanara Ramirez, a fourth-year communication studies and political science student, said she is proud of the strong support system UCLA students have.

“I think the moments we were in classrooms waiting for that ‘all clear’ (translate) to this very moment,” Ramirez said. “It’s really beautiful to see how our community is coming together to remember professor Klug.”

Speakers at Friday’s vigil commended Klug’s dedication to his vocation and unreserved love for his students.

“You could always see it in his eyes,” said professor Pirouz Kavehpour, a friend and colleague of Klug who worked with him in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department. “He was excited about what he did.”

Engineering professor Jeff Eldredge, said he noticed Klug’s brilliance as a young student at Caltech, where Eldredge was his teaching assistant.

The memorial service closed with an a cappella rendition of “Imagine” by John Lennon.

A GoFundMe page was created Friday in honor of the late professor. The page has raised more than $100,000.

Contributing reports by Jo Huang and Connie Zhou.

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Features & Student Life editor

Ghosh is the assistant news editor for the Features & Student Life beat. She covers features on UCLA students, faculty and staff, obituaries, events on campus, Greek life and the Hill. She was previously a Features & Student Life news contributor and an opinion columnist.

News contributor

Benjamin Siu is currently a news contributor covering Westwood, transportation and Los Angeles.

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