Iliana Corfias / Lantern reporter
Tears and grief were present at the annual memorial service held for Ohio State students who have died this school year.
The service was held at the Ohio Union Great Hall Meeting Room on Wednesday to honor the 18 students who died during the academic year. President E. Gordon Gee and Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for the Office of Student Life, told family, friends and the OSU community that the students will forever be remembered as Buckeyes.
Gee said each deceased student had one common experience – they knew what it was to be a Buckeye.
“Your loved ones were surely woven in the fabric of our community and surely in the fabric of our hearts,” Gee said. “They are, and will always remain, very much a part of the Ohio State family.”
The theme of the memorial service was “Always a Buckeye.”
Adams-Gaston said the service is a time during the year when the OSU community comes together to grieve and remember as a family.
“We are family, you are our family, your loved one is our family and we of The Ohio State University are family, in which we are all a part,” Adams-Gaston said. “As family members we forgive, we support and we remember the spark and the love that each of our loved ones gave us, and we move forward.”
Before the memorial service, the University Interfaith Association displayed a memorial table with the names of the deceased and a candle for each in the lobby of the Union. Next to the table was a memorial wall for students to write their memories and a memorial tree in which to tie a ribbon of remembrance.
Bob Trube, UIA president, said the display and the service was a way to say that each student at OSU is important in life or death.
The names, candles, memorial wall and memorial tree were moved to the Great Hall Meeting Room before the memorial service started. Added to the display were 18 potted rosemary plants with the words “Always a Buckeye” written on them.
At the end of the service, attendees had the chance to light and place a candle in the rosemary pot, representing community and honoring the deceased. Following, a reception was held for all who wanted to connect with other families and friends.
The Office of Student Life, the Student Advocacy Center, the Union, the Office of Parent and Family Relations and the UIA sponsored the service.
Karen Kyle, director of the Student Advocacy Center, said about half the families of the deceased students attended the service.
“I thought it went well,” Kyle said. “I feel like we really gave friends, family and loved ones a service that was really meaningful and comforting, and that achieves the goal.”
Kyle said the memorial service is as much for the students, faculty and staff of the university as it is for families.
“We are a campus of 65,000 students and we average 15-20 deaths a school year,” Kyle said. “In the loss of a young life that is too much.”
“A lot of times people see this as a big university, but an event like this makes it really personal,” Trube said. “We’re not too big.”
Family, friends and the OSU community were invited to attend the service. With enough chairs set up for 150 people, about 125 were filled.
“We must walk hand in hand as we grieve sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, family members, friends and people who were near and dear to our hearts,” Adams-Gaston said. “While we mourn their death, we celebrate their life, and though they are not physically here, with us we carry them.”