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Two Years Later, UCSB Remembers Victims of Isla Vista Massacre

An on-campus dance performance, blue lights in Isla Vista, and the awarding of six memorial scholarships highlight the commemoration

UCSB dance students perform Table of Silence’ on Monday in Storke Plaza to commemorate six university students who died in Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage two years ago.
UCSB dance students perform Table of Silence’ on Monday in Storke Plaza to commemorate six university students who died in Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage two years ago. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

As the white-clad dancers moved rhythmically to the slow beats and tones of percussion and flute in UC Santa Barbara’s Storke Plaza, the commemorative ceremony for the six victims of the Isla Vista massacre took on the air of strength and resiliency evident in prior memorials.

Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the darkest chapter of Isla Vista’s turbulent history, when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger murdered three men in his apartment including his roommates, and killed three more UCSB students in a behind-the-wheel shooting rampage that left nine others injured.

“Table of Silence,” originally created by New York-based choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi as a 9/11 tribute, featured 75 UCSB dance students who were accompanied by the student a cappella group Naked Voices, flautist and alumnus Azeem Ward, and student percussionist William Pasley.

“Today’s performance gives us a moment to pause and reflect on the lives of those we lost, and to pay tribute to their extraordinary legacy,” UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang told the several hundred attendees at the ceremony’s outset.

“It is also a reminder of the resilience and spirit of a community, that we have responded with a renewed sense of unity and focus — a reminder that tragedy has not torn us apart, but only brought us closer together and made us stronger.”

The horror of that Friday night galvanized the often-frenetic I.V. community and the adjacent UCSB to come together in a virtually unprecedented level of solidarity.

Thousands attended on- and off-campus memorials in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath, with blue lights coming to symbolize UCSB's and I.V.’s solidarity and remembrance over the intervening two years.

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang announces the recipients of five scholarships and a fellowship established to honor the memorial of six students slain two years ago. Click to view larger
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang announces the recipients of five scholarships and a fellowship established to honor the memorial of six students slain two years ago. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Coordinating much of the I.V. side of these remembrance efforts is BluNite, a project developed by IV OpenLab, a community-engagement class by UCSB art professor Kim Yasuda.

For much of May, strings of small, blue LED lights have been put up along light poles and business fronts, throughout parks, and across a number of private residences and UCSB buildings.

People’s Park, in I.V.’s downtown “loop” area, was the scene of a BluNite carnival earlier in the month, and is home to a student-led remembrance garden and artwork.

The blue theme was inspired in part by UCSB materials and electrical and computer engineering professor Shuji Nakamura’s invention of blue LEDs, which won him the 2014 Nobel prize for physics.

The university also named the inaugural recipients of five memorial scholarships and one fellowship it had created in honor of the victims, George Chen, Katherine Cooper, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, David Wang, James Hong, and Veronika Weiss.

The scholarships and fellowship, Yang said, are intended to memorialize the contributions they made to their community.

“Each of these recipients reflects the character, passions, kindness, intelligence and ambition of the six students we lost, ensuring that their legacies live on at UC Santa Barbara,” Yang said.

The scholarships and fellowship were awarded to:

» Taylor J. Stolzfus, George Chen Memorial Scholarship.

»  Lindsey Choate, Katherine Breann Cooper Memorial Scholarship.

»  Aileen Fullchange, James Hong Memorial Research Fellowship.

»  Joshua Ortiz, Christopher Michaels Martinez Memorial Scholarship.

»  Michael David Carson Teller, David Wang Memorial Scholarship.

»  Jennie Christensen, Veronika Weiss Memorial Scholarship.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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