LAUNA GREGORY The Mainstream
A proposed setting for the Oct.1 campus memorial has upset some students and staff who expressed their concerns at a Jan. 19 listening session, led by former UCC Board of Education Chairperson Vanessa Becker. The proposed site would face the northeastern Umpqua River along the back side of Jackson Hall.
“We will likely recommend that site to the board,” Becker said. Becker went on to explain the importance of “honoring our own.”
The memorial has been a sensitive subject on and off campus. “People’s comfort with memorials is on a long continuum. Some people want them and are comfortable with them; others don’t want to see them,” Becker explained.
A few concerns were brought up during the listening session. The first possible trigger is that Jackson Hall students and staff can see the memorial area from the north side of the Jackson Hall classrooms. This may cause distraction to the visitors to the memorial as students or staff pass by.
Charles Young, UCC associate professor of social sciences who teaches in Jackson Hall and who attended the listening session, said, “We are concerned about grieving people going by past the classrooms when students are in class.” The classroom windows would face the memorial.
Another concern is that the students uncomfortable with the location of the memorial would drop Jackson Hall classes or drop out of school entirely.
Other concerns were accessibility for parking and wheelchair, hazards by the huge cliff, damage to the oak tree at the memorial site by construction, safety and lighting.
Additional site proposals were brought up by the audience members. They asked about the Knechtel path area as a memorial location or near the water tower or track. However, Becker explained that this area is too steep for accessibility. “There isn’t any other place on campus as serene, as accessible, and able to avoid providing a constant reminder,” Becker said.
Some students and staff discussed designing small sculptures with metal hearts embedded into the walk ways of the memorial location similar to the ones used as commemorations in 2015.
Becker and her committee looked at many different design options. About 25 percent of their first committee meetings included families of the victims, faculty, administrators and potential donors.
The committee since Oct.1, 2015 has brainstormed what to build if they have no financial boundaries.
“How everyone experiences a memorial is very different,” said Becker. “We are taking this really slow. This won’t be decided by the end of the school year; it’s a two to four year process.”
A local native artist from the Douglas County community, Scott Horn had a few ideas as well. His idea is to carve stone with the names of the students engraved in it. “If the committee wanted, I would love to have the opportunity to carve the memorial,” Horn said.
In the meantime, the UCC Foundation also created a remembrance website. Video is still being collected by families for the website.
The committee may do a survey of students and possibly a committee sometime in the future.