DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- After a dramatic campus evacuation last week, more than 300 students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth gathered around the bell tower in the school’s main quad Monday to reflect on the Boston Marathon bombings -- and the classmate charged with perpetrating them.
Speaking at an evening vigil, students, faculty members and administration officials recalled how they banded together in the days after the bombings and the revelation that 19-year-old student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have helped carry them out.
On Monday, investigators said they found a large pyrotechnic and BBs in his room in the Pine Dale Hall dormitory here. School officials, meanwhile, confirmed that Tsarnaev was on campus Tuesday through Thursday last week.
“A lot of times, we see some of these attacks on the news in some faraway country like Syria,” said Marven-Rhode Hyppolite, president of the Student Government Assn. “What was different about these attacks is that they were close to home.”
“We understand the best way to combat these attacks is standing together, standing in unison and caring for each other.”
In between inspirational poetry and song, students spoke about giving one another rides and places to stay after the hasty evacuation Friday and thanked the administration for arranging hotel rooms while investigators probed the campus, which reopened Sunday.
Although speakers denounced Tsarnaev, no one spoke his name.
An administration official read a statement from Chancellor Divina Grossman, who was absent because she was caring for a sick relative.
“It would have been easy to have faltered in recent days, to have felt dragged down by the actions of one who was given the privilege of being part of the UMass Dartmouth family,” it said. “But rather than taking that path, we have banded together and will continue to move forward together in the months, weeks and years ahead.”
Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) said that “there was hatred and evil at this university,” but that the actions of students, volunteers and first responders carried the day.
“We are one, and we’re gathered here as one,” he said. “We’re reminded that all of us can speak and act as one, but one of us cannot speak and act for all of us.”
Michelle Cheyne, an assistant professor of foreign literature and languages, said Tsarnaev was “no longer a part of our community.” “Our hearts are sickened by what he has done,” she said.
She implored students to move on by doing something normal: studying.
“When everything else is confusing, there are certain things we know to be true,” she said.
A vocal group called Mental Note closed the vigil with an a cappella version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
“The campus is making us feel at home again,” said Sharon Kumar, a freshman. “It’s unfortunate it happened here, but we have to deal with it.”