ATO’s Eta Nu chapter hosts Campus Vigil for MTSU’s fallen

27 October

ETA NU (Middle Tennessee State) — Candle flames flickered and silent tears ran rivulets down the faces of MTSU students who gathered Wednesday evening in front of the Keathley University Center.

While inspirational songs played, those in attendance offered silent prayers to fallen Blue Raiders, including women’s basketball player Tina Stewart, who was killed in March in an altercation with her roommate at an off-campus apartment, and Brandon Johnson, a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity who committed suicide in 2009.

The vigil was hosted by the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, which was founded upon Christian principles, and drew about 40 people.

“I had met Brandon a couple of times, but he was close friends with most of the chapter members at that time,” said Cameron Martin (Middle Tennessee State ’09), an ATO member who was just beginning his Greek career when the brotherhood lost a dear friend.

“He was never shy, and he always did what he could to make people smile,” Marten went on. “Seeing how his death affected those close to me made me so sad. It was a ripple effect.”

Three banners were hung from the KUC patio, one for Johnson, one for Stewart and one for all the other fallen Blue Raiders, from students to faculty and alumni.

“You don’t know how much time you have,” said Janet Moor, who wore a tank-top marked with the birth and death dates of a fallen friend. “It’s important for us to come together and show support.”

ATO member Patrick Morrison (Middle Tennessee State ’09) was moved by the impromptu candlelight vigil held for Stewart after her death last spring. He felt that it was important to come together again and honor the memory of his fraternity brother, his alma mater’s fallen athletes and all other Blue Raiders who had lost their lives.

“This is a night of prayer and remembrance,” he told the crowd.

Attendees recited the newly instituted “MTSU True Blue Pledge” of nonviolence, and held a prayer and moment of silence during the lighting of candles.

Following the lighting, students broke off into smaller groups offering prayers and hugs in support. The members of the MTSU women’s basketball team formed a circle and quietly wept for their beloved teammate that was taken from them last semester.

“There is no set way for grieving,” said Britt Pettigrew of the MTSU Cru, an extension of Campus Crusade for Christ.

“The Tina Stewart vigil was powerful. To see all those people come together for support,” Morrison said. “This campus is torn apart. I had a vision to bring everyone together.

“Tonight we honor any fallen Blue Raider, because everyone has been affected by the loss of someone close to them.”

Full article via Samantha Williams, The Daily News Journal

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