Ohio State students gathered together on Tuesday at St. John Arena to continue the healing process from Monday's campus incident.
A day after a frightening incident outside of Watts Hall, Ohio State took a step forward with a solemn ceremony dedicated to bringing together the campus community. More than 500 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for the “#BuckeyeStrong” event at St. John Arena Tuesday night.
“I’m uplifted by the many acts of bravery and heroism that we witnessed over the past 48 hours,” Ohio State President Michael V. Drake told the crowd.
Drake talked about what he witnessed in the aftermath of the incident — students taking injured classmates to the hospital; offering first aid before paramedics arrived; hospital rooms filled with friends and family offering quiet encouragement to the injured.
“Buckeyes rose up in their time of great need to help other Buckeyes in those moments,” Drake said.
Those injured include Ohio State students as well as members of the university's faculty and staff; all are expected to make a full recovery.
Drake praised the first responders for their brave work, including Ohio State University police officer Alan Horujko, who was on the scene within a minute of the first report. “It was a situation that was very bad, but it could have been much worse,” Drake said.
At Tuesday’s event, Monica Moll, Ohio State’s director of public safety, relayed a message from Horujko, who earned a degree in international studies from the university in 2012.
“In the aftermath of such a traumatic event, I’m very humbled by the amazing amount and outpouring of support from the Columbus community and beyond,” Horujko said. “Not just for me, but for all of yesterday’s first responders. I know I acted just as any of the officers I served with would have. I want to thank everyone for their support and wish the campus community continued healing.”
Unity was top of mind for the hundreds of students at the event, including Slade Engle, a sophomore in business accounting. “I came tonight because I wanted to be a part of the Buckeye Nation and its healing,” Engle said. “I feel it’s important that we are together during this tough time.”
At Tuesday night’s event, Undergraduate Student Life President Gerard Basalla urged his fellow students to unite and ensure that the school remains a welcoming place for all people.
“We will not cower in the face of adversity, but rather our student body will come together as one Buckeye family,” he said. “We are a community of love for all people at all times. And we will work tirelessly to make sure that no matter who you are or where you are from, you will feel safe and welcome here.”
Third-year criminology student Alaa Shabaneh, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony in the traditional Muslim head scarf known as a hijab, said she is concerned her faith could cause her to become the object of scorn. “It’s unfortunate, because I was affected just as everyone else was affected,” she said.
But she said many of her Buckeye friends—Muslim and non-Muslim—are reaching out to support her in the aftermath of the attack. “I’ve had many people call me and check on me on the day of the incident,” she said. “Some of them came to talk to me today as well.”
As the evening’s program wrapped up, the crowd gathered arm in arm to sing the alma mater “Carmen Ohio” as hundreds held their cell phones up with the lights on as they swayed in the stands.