On Monday at 1:47 p.m., the FIU community paused for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Southwest 8th Street pedestrian bridge collapse.
As FIU and Florida state flags flew at half-mast, members of the Student Government Association joined hands with students, faculty and staff outside the Graham Center.
SGA President Krista Schmidt said, “I think this moment is really about healing together as a community, to build strength, showing others that they’re not alone. We’re all hurting. We’re all in pain, and it’s really important that we do this together as a community.”
Sophomore marketing major Carlos Rivero said events like this remind you to let those around you know you appreciate them.
“I always try to tell people, ‘Hey, I know it’s 10 in the morning, but I just wanted to let you know I appreciate you and I’m thinking of you. I’m just thanking you for any impact you’ve had in my life,'” Rivero said.
A peer mentor, Rivero said he will try to help his student mentees understand that it’s okay to ask for support as they grieve.
“It’s always good to talk to other people. Never keep any emotions bottled in. Always try to express your emotions, even if you don’t want to. And do it to someone you really trust,” he said.
Malcolm Jones, a graduate student in architecture, was working on his laptop in the Graham Center prior to the moment of silence. He immediately stood when activity and conversation stopped around the area of the GC Pit.
“I feel as though the victims deserve our respect,” he said. “I actually prayed. I just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
At the University Learning Center in the Green Library, peer tutors and those they were teaching, along with staff, all stopped activities at 1:47. Several stood up together and bowed heads in a moment of silent respect.
Among them was Lianna Carrigan, a freshman biology major, who afterward shed tears as she spoke of Alexa Duran, the student killed in the bridge collapse.
“It’s been hard,” she said. “She was fun, loving, caring. She was my sorority sister.”
Maria E. Hincapie, the center’s reading and learning coordinator, was moved by the brief gathering. “Watching everyone in silence and kind of folding their hands in prayer really touched me,” she said. “It was almost like burdened, undisguised pain that I observed in people’s shoulders, and at the same time it was almost prayerful.”
Counseling resources are available to help students, faculty and staff cope with this tragedy. Students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services in the Student Health Center by calling 305-348-2277, and faculty and staff can contact the Office of Employee Assistance at 305-348-2469, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. FIU Health also is offering free mental health and counseling services for faculty, staff and the community at the Faculty Group Practice at 885 SW 109th Ave. #131. You can call ahead to 305-348-3627 or walk in.