A quiet place of hope, healing and reflection was dedicated on the University of Wyoming campus on Friday morning.
The Student Memorial Plaza was dedicated Friday morning. Scores of people — students, faculty and members of the public — filled the area around the new space as five people spoke about the importance of the newly finished plaza.
“This is about as special a day and as special as an event as our community can have,” UW President Dick McGinity said. “What ASUW has accomplished with this memorial is really remarkable, and it will live on forever within the community that is the University of Wyoming.”
The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming started planning a remembrance space on campus at least three years ago, ASUW President Brian Schueler said, crediting the presidents and vice presidents of previous administrations.
“The University of Wyoming family has gone through many great times, and many exciting times are still to come — but we’ve also had many difficult times,” he said. “The loss of any member of our university is tough on all of us, but when a student of our university passes on, it can be particularly difficult. It’s important that, as a university family, we have a quiet place where we can reflect and heal.”
Construction began on the plaza — set on the east side of Prexy’s Pasture — in July. The cost of the project was more than $230,000, a UW release states. Most of the cost was covered by ASUW, although the UW Foundation contributed funds after the construction bid came in higher than expected.
Dean of Students Sean Blackburn explained the importance of such a plaza for students and families.
“This space sends a very powerful message of hope and caring to the entire campus,” he said. “When tragedy strikes and when sadness occurs, we need to gather and be together.”
While the plaza is a place to grieve, it can also be a place for renewal, Trustee Jeff Marsh said.
“It helps remind us to be grateful for our time together,” he said.
Students can utilize the plaza for things other than remembrance in times of loss, Schueler said.
“I love that this plaza is meant to live within the campus,” he said. “It will be an area for people to gather for fun, maybe have a picnic, and I think that’s important. As we want to remember students who have passed on, we don’t want their legacy to be stagnant but one that lives through all the students at the University of Wyoming.”