Communitiy candlelight vigils bring students together

Michael Bragg

Community candlelight vigils bring the Appalachian family together to reflect on devastating occurrences.

Last Monday, there was a community candlelight vigil held in honor of Tyler Blalock, an Appalachian student who recently passed away.

This Monday, the Third Annual Community Candlelight Vigil will be held for LGBT students and youth who have fallen victim to bullying and harassment.

The preparation for the vigil began at the beginning of the semester when LGBT Center volunteers were selected to serve as co-coordinators for the event.

This year, junior political science major Thomas Wrenn and sophomore accounting major William Post were selected as co-coordinators. Wrenn attended the vigil his freshman year and said it had a profound impact on his campus involvement.

“It was one of the first events I attended on campus and was huge in motivating me to become more involved on campus” Wrenn said.

Graduate Assistant for the  LGBT Center Mark Rasdorf founded the first Community Candlelight Vigil at Appalachian after the suicide of Tyler Clementi in October 2010.

“The vigil is important as it sends a message to the greater community here in the High Country that there is love and support for LGBT individuals,” Rasdorf said. “If our work helps one person to feel a greater sense of identity, self-love and acceptance, then it is all worth it.”

The co-coordinators lead the planning committee in reserving space, advertising, planning the theme and also selecting speakers for the event.

This year, the theme is “Light” which will be represented through a three faith blessing of Hindu, Jewish and Christian faiths. A letter will be read from Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson and main speakers include Dean of Students J.J. Brown and Provost Lori Gonzales.

“This year we’re featuring a lot of on-campus speakers and I think that is really important in making it known that ASU is a supportive and safe place,” Wrenn said.

The vigil serves to help students become more aware of how prevalent LGBT suicides are.

 “I personally didn’t know about all the teen LGBT suicides until I attended the 2011 Candlelight Vigil as a freshman,” Post said. “I feel this helps get a message out into the community that this is a problem and we all need to stand together to help fight this situation.”

The Community Candlelight Vigil will take place Monday on Sanford Mall at 7 p.m.

Story: KALEY CAMPBELL, A&E Reporter