Campus Pauses to Remember Victims

People lower their heads during a moment of silence on the Memorial Union South Patio.
At the Campuswide Moment of Reflection Feb. 1, people bow their heads for a minute of silence, led by the Rev. Quentisha Davis Wiles. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Updated 10 a.m. Feb. 7 to add information on the lantern ceremony scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. Feb. 7.

Original story posted Feb. 2: Dozens of people gathered Wednesday (Feb. 1) on the Memorial Union’s South Patio for a Campuswide Moment of Reflection and a minute of silence for recent victims of violence around the nation. Sadness and tears marked the occasion — but there was anger, too.


A lantern ceremony will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 7) on the Memorial Union’s South Patio in collective grief over recent tragedies in California and across the nation. Lantern ceremonies are traditional at the end of Lunar New Year (which ended Feb. 5), symbolizing togetherness, reconciliation and hope. Luminarias and light refreshments will be provided while supplies last.

“We can feel and be angry, we can be outraged, and we ought to be,” said the facilitator, the Rev. Quentisha Davis Wiles, senior pastor at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento. “The soul of our nation is wounded and it is grieving.”

She encouraged people to be witnesses to recent mass shootings, like those last month in the Bay Area and Southern California, as well as “compassionate companions,” that is, having a strong desire to respond to suffering.

She also referenced Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who grew up in Sacramento and was fatally beaten by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers, last month, and the student who died in a UC Davis residence hall, also in January.

Quentisha Davis Wiles speaks at lectern, with wreath of white flowers in background.
The Rev. Quentisha Davis Wiles, senior pastor at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento, encouraged people to be “compassionate companions,” that is, having a strong desire to respond to suffering. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

“We will see other things happen that will impact us unless we intentionally make a decision to be compassionate companions,” she said. “It means that we don't ignore the things happening around us. It means that when we acknowledge that people are hurting, we refuse to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.

“And we pause. We pause to say, I see you. We pause to acknowledge and witness that your pain is relevant. We stand together, and sometimes we cry together, because we know that all life is valuable.”

Two staff members who work together and attended the noontime event together explained how they practice compassion when tragedy strikes.

“I’m angry a lot now,” said Helene Goncalves-Rouse, who works in accounting for UC Davis Stores, wiping away tears as she thought about the recent high-profile deaths.

Her colleague, Kyla Hibbard, said the pair “check in on each other” often.

“It’s important for me to make sure people are seen,” Hibbard said. “You can be angry and tell me.”

Coming together as a university

Keven Zhou, a junior managerial economics major who serves as the ASUCD’s international student representative, said compassion is an integral part of UC Davis’ culture.

“As members of the UC Davis community, we have an obligation to build and maintain a culture and climate based on mutual respect and caring,” he said. “Let us come together to support each other in this difficult time and to reaffirm our commitment to these guiding principles. In the end, I believe that love, unity and compassion will always triumph over hate, division and violence.”

Celene Aridin, the ASUCD’s external affairs vice president, echoed that sentiment, encouraging attendees to “support yourself and support your peers.”

Two people reach to grab roses from a table.
The Rev. Quentisha Davis Wiles, left, and Kawami Evans, diversity, equity and inclusion strategist for the Division of Student Affairs, pick up white roses after the Feb. 1 ceremony. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The program included tabling by Student Health and Counseling Services, Aggie Mental Health, the ASUCD Mental Health Initiative and the Craft Center, and a giveaway of white, artificial roses with affirming quotes.

A rapid response

Organizers said the event — which came together quickly — was important to acknowledge the difficulty of continuing on with daily tasks at work or school when so much tragic news is weighing heavily.

“To acknowledge that it’s been a rough time for Davis, for California and for the nation is powerful,” said Cecily Roberts, director of the Women’s Resources and Research Center. She said she suggested the idea for the event during a meeting Friday (Jan. 27), with the thought that “having a physical moment to breathe and come together would be really important.”

Staff worked through the weekend to make the event happen, planning over phone calls while at the grocery store or dog park, said Lindsay Romasanta, chief of staff for Pablo Reguerín, vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

“We don’t do this often enough,” she said, noting Reguerín’s enthusiastic support for the event.


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Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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