UVU students hold candlelight vigil for victims of Israel-Hamas war 

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On Feb. 27, 2024, UVU student Manasseh McFarlane held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The event has garnered hope for students at UVU wishing to make a difference.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Feb. 27, 2024, the Black Student Union (BSU) at UVU sponsored a candlelight vigil for the victims of the war in Gaza. The event was the product of student Manasseh McFarlane’s desire to raise awareness and contribute all the way across the world.  

“I was kind of figuring out what I should do, and how I can feel more like I have a voice,” said McFarlane. “I was trying to brainstorm things [we] can do, and ways to be involved. And it just came to me to do a candlelight … I feel very powerless and like I can’t do anything to help. So, this was a way for me to feel like I stand with them, and I know what they’re going through. I am here for them.” 

Ever since Hamas led deadly attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, Israel has unleashed ground campaigns and air bombings. This has resulted in casualties of over 30,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are civilians. Out of this number, an estimated 13,000 have been children. The conflict has become a humanitarian crisis, impacting lives on a global scale.   

The vigil was held on campus and featured a speech from McFarlane and a moment of silence for the lives lost in the war. McFarlane discussed the event with The Review: “It was very somber. It was very respectful. But at the same time, people felt hopeful that this was happening here at UVU … It was really cool to see how people were interacting with each other and getting to know each other [to] kind of further the cause that way.” 

UVU student Kaitlyn Reeves also attended the event. She and McFarlane met while working together at a teen crisis center, and she learned about the event from him.  

“I just love what [McFarlane] is doing,” Reeves told The Review. “I like how he brought it to UVU. I was in that mindset too, [where I felt] hopeless about it … It seems like we are in a movie; it doesn’t seem real. None of this should be real. And I think putting real eyes onto it, looking at it, and letting people know that we are angry, even all the way from Utah, is the first step to helping.”  

“We want to do as much as we can,” Reeves continued. “We want to speak for you. We want to bring people together to unite so that we can help. And I think that’s just something that I feel really passionate about is trying to make sure that everyone’s lives are seen and valued.” 

The Review spoke with McFarlane and Reeves about their thoughts and advice they wanted to share with students who hope to get more involved.  

“So, one of the biggest things, and one of the main things is, obviously, taking into account people’s mental health,” explained McFarlane. “Because some people can’t handle learning about this. However, for me personally, I was like, ‘Willful ignorance is a privilege,’ and I’m not going to give myself that privilege. But that righteous anger is how change has happened in the U.S. Those in Gaza don’t get the option to look away. If it’s your lived experience, you don’t get to [turn] your head.” 

“Remember that as person, your voice still matters,” continued McFarlane. “One person can make a change if they are united in a common cause. And so, once you can understand that, then you can start to make that difference and feel like you are affecting the world in a positive way.” 

Reeves emphasized the importance of peacebuilding: “So, how [do we] solve issues with peace at first and avoid great conflicts that are happening now? … We need to have those tough conversations that maybe might hurt your ego a little bit, but at the end of the day really impact people.” 

Both McFarlane and Reeves encouraged students to educate themselves by finding information from direct sources. They suggested Bisan Owda, a reporter on the ground in Gaza, or photographer Motaz Azaiza. “I’d be much more inclined to listen to someone with Palestinian connections, rather than just somebody who’s randomly talking about it. So, if you go and look for someone with connections, you’ll find more accurate information,” stated McFarlane. 

The Review will continue to update on the Israel-Hamas war. For more UVU content, please visit www.uvureview.com.