There was scarcely a dry eye in the crowd assembled around the UCF reflection pond for the candlelight vigil on Thursday night. The gathering of several hundred people, including the University President Dr. John Hitt, was an emotional occasion for many as it was organized in response to the increased number of suicides due to bullying over the past year. The vigil promoted equality and acceptance and called for an immediate end to bullying and discrimination.
The event, which took place from 8 to 10 p.m. was sponsored by Delta Lambda Phi, Knight Allies, and Equal. Speeches from UCF students and concerned members of the community addressed ways in which we can end bullying and promote acceptance for all. Although the vigil focused specifically on discrimination towards the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and questioning) community, the cause was stressed as universal and therefore a concern of everyone’s.
Student support groups set up tables around the reflection pond in order to provide information on where victims of bullying can get help. Among the organizations present were UCF Victim Services, Office of Student Rights and Responsibility and UCF Counseling Services.
Within the past year, six members of the GLBTQ community took their own lives as a means to escape relentless bullying and exclusion from peers. The message stressed over and over again throughout the vigil was that it does get better. Speakers pushed for those who are considering suicide due to bullying to hang on, because circumstances will improve. Gatherers held candles in honor of those who took their own lives as well as those who are still living in constant struggle to overcome bullying and hate. While there is no concrete and immediate solution to this problem, speakers at the vigil proposed showing love in the face of hate in order to break the cycle and start moving in the right direction towards.