Students and faculty sit in the prayer service at Stauffer Chapel on Jan. 30. In times of community need, University Chaplain Sara Barton wrote in a Jan. 30 email to the Graphic she prays to be a good listener. Photo by Samantha Torre
In response to the body camera footage of Tyre Nichols’ arrest, Seaver College is holding time for supportive measures for students, giving them a space to process and grieve.
Nichols was a Black man who police beat at a traffic stop in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols died three days later, according to the New York Times.
Connie Horton, vice president for Student Affairs, said there was a Zoom with the Counseling Center on Jan. 28, a prayer service with the Hub for Spiritual Life and University Chaplain Sara Barton on Jan. 30, and a space for students to process their emotions in the ICA Lounge on Jan. 30. There will also be an invitation to connect with the Black Student Support Group on Feb. 2.
“Tyre Nichols’ arrest, death, and the horrific violence he experienced weighs heavily upon us as a community of peace-loving people committed to affirming the dignity of all God’s children,” Dean of Seaver College Michael Feltner wrote in a Jan. 30 email statement to the Graphic. “As each member of our community continues to process and reflect upon this tragedy, they do so in a community that loves and supports them.”
Horton said part of what Student Affairs is doing is reminding students of resources they already have — like free counseling and identity-based support groups such as Black Student Support Group and AAPI Support Group.
“It is my hope and prayer that all members of the community will take advantage of the resources provided to care for theirself and their neighbor in this time of challenge,” Feltner wrote.
The decision to host additional sessions can come in a variety of ways. Horton may feel support is necessary, or her staff and students may express concerns.
“Part of it is my own instinct that this is a moment, and it seems that there’s particular national attention distress, and I anticipate that our students and our colleagues are also feeling that,” Horton said.
To begin the process, Horton said she starts formulating a letter to the community and then “plugs in” the opportunities for seeking support.
As University Chaplain, Barton’s role is to provide support for community members, Barton wrote in a Jan. 30 email to the Graphic.
“Sometimes you just need someone to talk to, and at times like these, I pray to be a good listener,” Barton wrote.
Horton said the programs are an assortment of options and students should choose what will fulfill their needs, if a student is unsure, they can bring a friend to sessions.
Horton said the goal of supportive measures is not high attendance but to let students know the option is there. If necessary, the University can offer more support later, she said.
ICA is willing to connect with students on any given day and offer support and a space for students to promote social justice, wrote Terra Hall, associate dean of Student Affairs for Diversity and Belonging, in a Feb. 1 email to the Graphic.
“The ICA staff acknowledges that we may not have all of the answers, but that we are here to listen to all,” Hall wrote. “While students may have their own response to these recent tragedies, through our programming, we want them to experience care, support, and advocacy.”
Horton said she thinks the supportive measures indicate the University sees and cares for its students, that students are more than “brains on a stick,” who have feelings and need support when a tragedy occurs.
“I hope it teaches people, students, for the future you know, in life, when there’s moments like this, sometimes it’s good to pause for a moment,” Horton said. “Take care of yourself, move forward.”
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