University dedicates Student Memorial Garden to honor fallen students

Andrea Delph

Students and faculty gathered at the Student Memorial Garden Tuesday evening to celebrate its dedication and commemorate those in the community who have passed.

The dedication, part of President Beverly Warren’s Inauguration Week, took place at the new garden, located near a major walkway behind the Student Center and adjacent to Manchester Field, at 7 p.m.

Background instrumentals played as speakers presented poetry and words of encouragement to fit the memorial’s design to be a place of healing and reflection.

“This memorial is a healing place,” Warren said. “This will come to be a place where we come to refuel our souls, whether it’s through a loss of a life, a relationship or a loss of sense of self. This is a place where reflection may help and amend.”

The idea to create a Student Memorial Garden came about in the early 2000s when the university experienced a loss of a number of students due to accidents, natural causes and, in some cases, tragic circumstances, said Brian Cannon, the executive director of Undergraduate Student Government for 2015-2016.

“Because of this, USG had been one of the several groups who were actively advocating for a permanent memorial on campus,” Cannon said.

The Rev. Lauren Odell-Scott, campus minister and director of United Christian Ministries at Kent State, started off the dedication with a prayer followed by a moment of silence to commemorate those lost.

“Everyone encounters times of grieving,” Odell-Scott said. “There has been a need for a dedicated space, where students can gather in such times and in their own ways with their different perspectives on life and faith.”

Warren said that this project was a student-oriented project. She thanked USG for coming up with the idea because she said she believes the students truly needed a healing place.

“It’s definitely a peaceful place,” said Jada Hobson, a senior applied communications major. “This space not only offers a location to pay respect to those who have passed, but it also benefits us students by allowing us a space to think and be one with ourselves and the universe.”

The dedication ended with the releasing of doves and Marina Strah, a recent Kent State graduate, singing and playing the guitar.

The approximately $230,000 Student Memorial Garden includes a waterfall and lower pool, benches and stone seating, brick pavement, and lower-level lights to illuminate the path.

Although there are no specific names of those students and faculty who have passed, there is a memorial plaque displaying the words, “Always in our thoughts, forever in our hearts.”

Contact Andrea Delph at [email protected]