As Baylor students, we have a few things to be proud of in our response to the West tragedy. We can be proud of students, faculty and staff who volunteered their time in the wake of the blast to help, who stood in line hours to donate blood, who gave supplies.
But we can’t be proud of our behavior at the memorial last Thursday. It is a source of shame for our community.
It was an honor to be chosen as the venue for this event. Twelve brave men were remembered here. Twelve fallen heroes, first responders who gave their lives unselfishly to try and help their community, were honored Thursday in the Ferrell Center.
Those men were the true reason for the event, although it has become abundantly clear to us that some did not attend to honor them. They paid the ultimate price, and how did we repay them?
We saw students get up to leave the memorial immediately after the president’s speech, making it abundantly clear the real reason they attended.
It was not to honor those men. It was not to support their families.
They attended so they could claim to have seen a president. Normally, this would be a source of pride. However, if you bragged to your friends in the wake of the event about seeing President Obama and forgot the real reason we gathered, you have absolutely nothing to be proud of.
Yes, as a university, we are honored that important figures in our government, including the president, Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Rick Perry, chose to come to campus, but we cannot forget the reason for their visit.
It was those 12 heroes.
Why, then, did members of the audience get up — before the memorial was concluded —and leave after the president finished speaking?
Such selfishness and disrespect astounds us. That behavior was a slap in the face to anyone who lost a friend or loved one in the disaster. It is an outrage. It is not to be tolerated. If you are one of those who left, we hope your decision shames you in the days to come.
It’s important to note that the Ferrell Center was packed to capacity that day. The stadium filled up quickly and some who wished to attend the event were turned away, instead occupying several campus locations for overflow seating. Those who couldn’t get into the Ferrell Center had to watch the memorial on screens.
Those who left took up valuable space that could have been occupied by someone who was there for the right reason.
Instead, those spaces were wasted on those who left early. You cannot imagine the pain of those families who lost their loved ones. How dare you disrespect them at a time when they need support from their community?
In fact, isn’t that what we were praised for at the service? Our support of the West community?
By leaving early, you revealed your own selfish motives. You deserve none of that praise. You have shamed our community.
You have shamed yourselves.
Imagine, for a second, how those families must have felt as they watched members of their community walk out around them. Members who, only a few days before, seemed so eager to help. Is that the message you want to send them? That when the big events are over, you’ll forget about the tragedy in West? Because that’s what your little stunt on Thursday said.
To those who left, we are ashamed that the families of the victims, residents of West and the president had to witness your bad behavior.
We would like to extend our own apologies to the families of the victims for the atrocious manners of those members of our community and assure you that the majority of us are behind you 100 percent of the way. We wish you support and healing in the days ahead.