A vigil was held on Nov. 13 in the Revelle Plaza to mourn the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College.
Approximately 200 people attended the event in hopes that the 43 students are still alive, since sufficient evidence proving otherwise has not yet surfaced. The students were abducted on Sept. 26 because of their participation in the march to honor the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre.
Mariko Kuga, Student Initiated Access Programs and Services co-coordinator for UCSD’s Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service, and other organizers distributed flowers and candles to the individuals who attended the vigil. The flowers and candles were placed by the photos of the 43 students. Once the candles were distributed, the roster which contained the names of all 43 students was read and the crowd responded with ‘presente’ after each name was said.
Public commentary was then offered, and a variety of individuals from different ethnic, educational and social backgrounds spoke of their feelings and the unity which the vigil brought. An emphasis was placed on the idea that the disappearance of these students affects all people, regardless of who they are and where they come from, and, because these 43 individuals were students, that this affects the UCSD student body in a more personal manner.
When asked what the main goal of the vigil was, Kuga explained that it was necessary to provide solidarity and to represent all groups on campus.
“There wasn’t really a goal other than to bring students together that feel like-minded,” Kuga said. “[The vigil] is hitting a lot of members of our community very personally, obviously, [and the goal] was to offer people space to grieve, to reflect, [and] to process.”
Individuals from the community who spoke at the event discussed several issues, including the similarity in the progressive elimination of public education by state and university authorities, along with their personal experiences with oppressive government institutions.
The vigil concluded with a performance by UCSD sophomores Sinnai Avila and Francisco Javier Garcia, who sang a song which illustrated the political struggles and oppression which the disappearance of the 43 students represents.
When asked how she felt about the turnout of the event, Avila explained that although it was in response to a terrible action, it elicited passion from the student body.
“The … students that were taken in Ayotzinapa and the five5- percent tuition increase in the UC system, in the end it’s all correlated; it’s all systemic oppression toward students,” Avila said. “I really like how a lot of students are here gathering because they recognize the oppression and like, in the end, we’re all connected — this is something that is affecting all students.”
Garcia commented that regardless of whether one is a student of Mexico or California, this event is directly affecting everyone.
“I’ve been noticing a very big trend of the century, this time, this generation, where everything is coming to an extreme climax where they’re either going to turn for the worst or the best,” Garcia said. “The turnout here is beautiful because with death is life, and this brings a lot of life about what’s going on within society. Too many things are coming together that are affecting us directly [and] we can’t stand on the sidelines anymore [and] just ignore those things.”