The Spectator

Gone but not forgotten

Story by Nick Erickson, Former Editor in Chief

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It was a clear, comfortable and picturesque Tuesday afternoon to hold the university’s first annual Day of Remembrance ceremony.

Just as the names of the 10 students and faculty members who have died this school year were read one by one, a wind came gushing through the ceremony.

“I’d like to think the wind we have are some of the voices looking down on us today,” Vice Chancellor Beth Hellwig said Tuesday to a crowd of roughly 50 people at a public ceremony remembering deceased students and faculty.

Hellwig said the event is held not to mourn the victims, but to come together as a community and remember that each person that died in this school year made a difference to the school.

In the last five years, 19 students have died, Hellwig said.  Just two weeks ago, an Eau Claire student fell off the footbridge and is presumed dead.

Dean of Students Brian Carlisle speaks with family members after a student dies. He said the Eau Claire campus creates pockets of communities and the death of a student causes pain and hurt throughout the student body.

“Immediately they hurt because they see them, they interact with them on a daily basis,” Carlisle said. “Every person on this campus feels the loss, even if they don’t know the person.”

Since the middle of June 2012, nine students and one faculty member have passed away. The students were Jacob Clarkson, Richard Drews, Daniel Gerbec, Nick Hou, Ross Livermore, Brittney Mattison, Jenna Roark, David Rodgers and Cheryl Wackwitz. The faculty member was Evalee Kunkel.

Carlisle said he saw other institutions publicly recognize their deceased faculty and students, and after the most recent death, he said it was time for Eau Claire to do the same.

“I really wanted it to be something meaningful,” Carlisle said. “It allows us to not only show attention to the students, faculty and staff that have died, but to also just generally spend time thinking about people that mean something to us.”

Carlisle said the event is to become an annual tradition, and the number of people read off will be the campus deaths that fall between this year’s ceremony to next year’s.

Carlisle worked with Student Senate to create this event, and he wanted to make a ceremony that was “short and sweet” because he said people have done enough grieving and there is no need to drag the process out even longer. He said he also wanted to make the event more of a celebration of life.

The ceremony included bagpipes by Judy Brist, a message from interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet and a song from the Singing Statesmen. It lasted around 20 minutes.

Student Body Vice President Patrick Martin said the community aspect of Eau Claire makes these people more than just a number.

“As long as we keep those relationships, those shared feelings alive in our minds and hearts, they will always be with us, they will always be a part of us, and they will always be Blugolds,” Martin said.

 

 

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The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Gone but not forgotten