Prayer vigil ties campus to tragedy

With bowed heads and joined hands, Rattlers circled the Eternal Flame Tuesday in remembrance of the shooting victims at Virginia Tech.

Following the shooting Monday that claimed the lives of 33 students and teachers, including the shooter, FAMU students held a prayer vigil for their fellow college students.

Jeffrey Jenkins, 21, a music education student from Orlando, received a text message early Tuesday morning from his friend saying she prayed for him. This prompted Jenkins to pray for others.

Jenkins said he immediately called a few of his friends and instructed them to call other students to join in the vigil.

“Please text people,” Jenkins said. His initiative caused mass texts to spread across campus, informing students to convene at the Eternal Flame at 2:30 p.m. When the time arrived nearly 80 students gathered to pray.

The students prayed for the comfort of the broken-hearted.

They prayed for deliverance, wisdom and safer campuses. They also prayed that God would touch students who may have the same motive within their hearts to commit a crime like the one that occurred in Virginia.

As the prayers ended, 22-year-old elementary education student Arlayna Nesbitt sang “I Pray We’ll All be Ready” by the Chicago Mass Choir.

“I am a strong, strong believer in the power of prayer,” said Nesbitt, who knew little about the shootings. Nesbitt said she researched the shooting after receiving numerous text messages Tuesday.

After the discussion in her classes, she was moved to attend the ceremony at the flame.

“(It) made me want to pray for those families,” she said. Minister Dave Hess from Every Nation Campus Ministries said his heart goes out to college students everywhere. He instructed the students in attendance not to live their lives in vain.

“Our lives are not just for us,” Hess said. “We must be about Christ.” Hess said the tragedy at Virginia Tech caused him to once again reflect on the seriousness of life.

Students were shocked that such a serious crime could happen on a college campus similar to FAMU.

Twenty-one-year-old Jenkins said his first response to the massacre was surprise.

“That’s crazy,” Jenkins said. “It happened at a college campus.” He said he questioned if the same thing could happen at FAMU.

Coincidentally, weeks prior to the Virginia Tech shooting, FAMU police officers began implementing security systems around campus.

“We are getting a new siren for the north side and south side of campus,” said University Crime Prevention Officer Sherri Luke. These sirens will warn students in case of a major emergency.Luke explained that each siren would have 10 pre-recorded messages that will indicate to students the nature of the emergency situation through an audible voice. She said she and a team mate are also upgrading the E2-campus message system to include security tools to aid the visually and audibly impaired.

“The north side siren is already installed near FAMU DRS behind the Black Archives, and the south side siren will be up and running on April 26,” Luke said.

Jenkins said in light of this incident, students should take the time to encourage depressed students.

Police identified the Virginia Tech gunman as 23-year-old English student Cho Seung-Hui from South Korea. The student reportedly left cruel notes in his dorm room.

The shooting has been labeled the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.