Chancellor shares thoughts on Orlando mass shooting; campus remembrance events planned

Vanderbilt community members who wish to come together to remember the victims of a mass shooting in Orlando may do so at events held this week on campus at the K.C. Potter Center, Benton Chapel and All Faith Chapel at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

According to media reports, 49 people were killed and more than 50 wounded when a gunman opened fire early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The act is being called the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11. The gunman claimed ties to ISIS.

“As we remember the victims of the tragic mass shooting in Orlando and share in the profound sorrow experienced by their loved ones, the city of Orlando, and indeed the world, we must remember that heinous acts such as this are inspired by hate and intended to drive us apart through fear and violence. However, it is in these dark moments that we should also remind ourselves of the importance of creating a community where all are welcomed, nourished, respected and able to reach their fullest potential,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said.

“Our response in light of this terrible act is to condemn violence and reaffirm our values of acceptance and respect that every member of our community deserves. Hate and terror cannot and will not win,” he said.

An informal gathering to reflect on the tragedy, remember those lost and offer comfort and support will be held at the K.C. Potter Center Monday, June 13. Attendees are welcome to bring a lunch and gather between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the center.

A candlelight vigil will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 15, in the All Faith Chapel at Vanderbilt Divinity School. The community is invited to come together for prayers of peace, healing, comfort, renewal, repentance and lamentation in remembrance of the victims. Divinity faculty and students will lead the prayers and readings.

At noon on Wednesday, the bell at Kirkland Hall will ring 49 times, each chime to remember a victim who perished in Orlando, Florida.

Also on Wednesday, Benton Chapel will be open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a time of prayer, reflection and a showing of solidarity for the victims and all who were impacted by the tragedy. There will not be a formal service, but all are welcome to visit the chapel anytime during these hours to reflect, light an electric candle and/or share written reflections in an official register. Staff from the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life and the Psychological and Counseling Center will be available for counseling or conversation of any kind, if desired.