Southwestern College students and staff held a vigil in front of the Student Center Tuesday for those killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Associated Students Organization (ASO) President Mona Dibas and Director of Student Activities Brett Robertson organized the event.
“We will not go away,” Robertson said, addressing the crowd. “We will not go back into the closet.”
He identified himself as a gay man during his speech.
SWC President Melinda Nish called the moment “another somber time in our nation’s history” and called for a renewed commitment to tolerance and acceptance.
SWC Chief of Police Michael Cash also spoke.
“I have never felt so ready in my entire career for what faces us,” Cash said. “We’re not backing down.”
Robertson called for action.
“After grieving,” he said, “we must take action to take these weapons out of the hands of those who would do us harm.”
Once the speakers concluded their speeches, candles were passed around by members of the ASO to the gathering of about 300.
ASO Senator-at-large Roy Castillo, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, read the names of the victims. Dibas stood next to him, then concluded the vigil.
“It is our duty to love,” Dibas said as students and staff signed the large “We Are Orlando” banner behind her. “Unite and fight this.”
Students can find the banner in the student center and are encouraged to sign.