Students in prayer vigil ask for comfort for UT community

Cassandra Jaramillo

Singing songs of worship and lighting candles in the form of the word “love,” students from Christian ministries on campus led a prayer vigil asking for strength and comfort for the UT community.

“You’re my one defense, my righteousness. Oh, God, how I need you,” several dozens of students sang in unison. 

Students gathered in front of the UT Tower to pray for different causes. The vigil is one of several gatherings the University community has had following the death of UT theatre and dance freshman Haruka Weiser, but prayer vigil organizer Hannah Wilmeth said the night of prayer was needed for healing among the student body.

“These last three weeks have been rough as a student body,” Wilmeth, a textiles sophomore, said. “Our goal is to unite everyone in love.”

One woman walked up to the front of the steps of the Tower and asked to heal the suffering of the campus after a hydrogen sulfide gas leak in the apartment building 21 Pearl caused the death of a West Campus student yesterday afternoon.

President Gregory Fenves said in an email to the University that many students had asked for ways to honor Weiser. 

“As I spoke with many of you over the weekend, you asked how you can pay tribute to Haruka,” Fenves said. “The Weiser family has requested that all gifts be directed to the Haruka Weiser Memorial Fund.” 

Fenves said the Weiser family will determine how they will use the gifts to honor their daughter. Students wanting to send messages to the family could write to the family at the email address [email protected]

Christopher Shafik, sophomore economics student, said prayer has helped him find comfort during the difficult days. 

“I feel the University and the community of Austin has this heavy weight on us,” Shafik said. “There’s this fear factor. But when I pray, I feel like there’s this slow communication going on where I am getting answers from God. Prayer allows me to be closer to the answer. Prayer comforts me.”