Following the deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last Saturday, the University of Michigan-Dearborn is working with students to respond, issuing statements and organizing a campus vigil set to take place Tuesday at noon.
The shooting, which is being classified as a hate crime, left 11 dead and 6 wounded in, making it the biggest attack on Jews in American history. The shooter faces 29 charges including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of hate crimes.
A day later, in an email to UM-Dearborn students, Chancellor Domenico Grasso extended his condolences to those in Pittsburgh, as well as Jefferson, Kentucky, where a white man killed two black men in a Kroger last Wednesday in a killing that is being investigated as a hate crime. He also condemned the violence and bigotry behind the shooting as having “no place at UM-Dearborn, or society in general, and are contrary to the standards of our campus community.” The email also included the statement from the University of Michigan Board of Regents and President Mark Schlissel, which called for unity in the face of violence.
The University called a meeting midday Monday between representatives of the University and several different student organizations such as the Jewish Student Organization, Black Student Union, and Student Government. In the meeting, details were ironed out for Tuesday’s vigil.
The Ann Arbor campus also held a vigil the Sunday following the shooting on the Diag. Hundreds gathered in the rain to mourn the loss of life.
Various religious organizations across the UM-Dearborn campus issued statements showing solidarity with the Pittsburgh community. The InterVaristy Christian Fellowship, in a statement to the Journal, expressed solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish community and said they “pray for God’s heart to be revealed through people treating each other with love, dignity, and respect, no matter our differences.”
The Muslim Students’ Association also released a statement, condemning the attack which they said “tears at the very foundation of this nation, stripping away the security that everyone deserves in their places of worship.”
For Jewish students, this tragedy presents an opportunity to broaden discussions of Jewish life and culture. “It breaks my heart to hear that people are still being killed in 2018 for being Jewish,” says JSO president Jordan Wohl in a statement to the Journal. “I will be sitting down with my advisors this week to take a deep dive into what we can do here in Dearborn to overcome any negative predispositions or stereotypes about Jewish people and Jewish culture.”
Students who need assistance are encouraged to contact the campus Counseling Services for support at 313-593-5430. The vigil will take place Tuesday at noon until 12:45 p.m. There will also be a campus-wide moment of silence at 12:15 p.m.