The Daily Texan – October 14, 2016
The tower chimed the song “Amazing Grace” Friday morning as the Weiser family, along with the UT community, gathered around the flagpole to remember Haruka.
A flag-lowering memorial service Friday honored theatre and dance student Haruka Weiser’s memory a little more than six months after she was killed on campus.
Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said Haruka’s death shattered the college, and they are still shaken and recovering. He introduced several dance and theatre students who performed a dance tribute, called Walk With Me.
The dancers, dressed in all black, danced across the grass below the flagpole with expressions of pain and grievance. At the end of the dance, the performers cried and hugged each other, making their way back to their seats behind the Weiser family.
Memorial service speakers talked about the need for more campus safety. The Weiser family spoke about a new safety initiative they helped create, called Walk With Me.
Walk With Me, one of the Be Safe campaign‘s initiatives, seeks to change the culture of campus safety and encourage students to never walk alone. Walking in pairs or groups, using SURE Walk or other safe methods of getting around campus will be highly encouraged by the campaign.
Student Government president Kevin Helgren remembered attending a community gathering for Haruka on April 7, his third day as president, and said his last six months in office have primarily consisted of conversations surrounding campus safety.
“We need to prioritize safety at UT,” Helgren said. “We’re Longhorns, and Longhorns take care of each other. Our message to anyone on campus is if you ever feel unsafe, walk with me.”
The Weiser family said there is strength in numbers and believe if Haruka had not been walking alone that night in April, the outcome would have been different.
“It was a difficult and painful decision to return to UT, but we want to prevent what happened to Haruka from happening to other students,” said Tom Weiser, Haruka’s father.
Weiser said the three main goals of Walk With Me will be for students to walk with each other, walk with Haruka and walk with all of the Weiser family and UT community who have been suffering from the loss.
“Walk With Me is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of graciousness and kindness,” Weiser said.
Weiser encouraged everyone to live every day to the fullest and to not be a part of the destruction and violence that has so often been occurring throughout the world, but to be a part of the healing. He also expressed the need to address rape and sexual assault on college campuses and for violence against women to be discouraged.
Haruka’s roommate, Sylvia Feghali, said Haruka was a beautiful, kind person. She recalled some of their memories and adventures as an out-of-state freshman living in the dorm together.
“Haruka was a truly inspirational girl, whose spirit touched my life and that of so many others in ways that will never be captured through words alone,” Feghali said.
This story has been updated since its initial publication to clarify that Walk With Me is part of the Be Safe campaign.