CSU Vigil Honors Virginia Tech Victims

Related: President's statement on tragedy | Vigil photos

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- More than 250 CSU students, faculty, staff and townspeople gathered Thursday afternoon to honor the lives of those lost at Virginia Tech.

The vigil honoring victims of Monday's massacre was organized by CSU’s Student Affairs division and the Student Government Association.

“Even though finals and graduation are just ahead, we want to let those affected by this tragedy know that we care about them and are thinking of them,” said CSU SGA President Nicole de Vries, who welcomed the crowd.

She was followed at the podium by Cheryl Yatsko, of CSU’s student Counseling Center, and Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Kees.

Kees noted the tragedy has victimized not only those who died, but their families and close friends, as well as those injured who must bear both the physical and mental trauma from witnessing their classmates deaths. “It’s a tragedy whose victims might number 1,000,” he said.

Kees exhorted the CSU students to not forget their peers at Virginia Tech but to also carry on with their lives and studies at CSU without “looking over your shoulders in fear.”

After the speeches, the crowd somberly soaked in a short guitar instrumental piece performed by CSU honors student Mark Edwards.

Following a minute-long tolling of the clock tower bell, the students descended on a pair of banners, one bearing the insignia of Virginia Tech and the other CSU. Students signed their names and-or wrote messages on both, which will be sent early next week to the Student Government Association at Virginia Tech.

In a related development, CSU’s Residence Life office has designated its annual Resident Assistant of the Year award to one of the Virginia Tech victims, Ryan Clark, a student from Martinez, Ga., who died during the attack while attempting to help one of his residents.

Both the Residence Life honor and the vigil follow a tone set by CSU President Frank Brown’s message to students, faculty and staff in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy and “events that will forever change that campus and the families connected to that university,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.”