Sandy Hook Vigil Receives National Recognition

College and University Residence Halls recognized Student Association Director of Student Programing senior Matthew Bower and the campus community for the Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook Elementary School held in December.

Bower, a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary, submitted the event to its “Of the Month,” award, which according to the NRHH website is “a way to recognize the amazing things” that occur on each chapter’s campus. Bower’s submission won the national award in the community service program category.

According to Bower, the submission of an OTM award starts at the campus level. If the award wins at the campus, it gets passed on to the regional and national levels.

“In NRHH we are required to do an OTM each semester,” Bower said. “This just seemed like the perfect opportunity for an OTM. I figured it would win for Geneseo but I had no idea that it would win for the nation ... I’m just super happy it got accepted.”

Bower added that he decided to submit the candlelight vigil also to showcase the collaboration and effort that went into the preparation of the event, which took less than 24 hours.

Bower said that Director of College Union and Activities Charles Matthews contacted Bower the Sunday after the shooting to cosponsor a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of Sandy Hook for the next day. Bower agreed and reached out to members of the Activities Commission to see who would be willing to help with publicity.

Juniors Megan Killea and Jessica Schiffhauer helped Bower with the event by emailing and creating a Facebook event to spread the word.

“They really did most of the work,” Bower said.

According to Bower, Killea and Schiffhauer’s work brought together between 75 and 100 students.

“I think it’s impressive about the Geneseo community that so many students showed up during finals week,” Bower said. “They gave up their free time to think about something that was bigger than themselves.” 

According to Bower, Geneseo’s chapter of NRHH will hold a celebration in the coming weeks since the honor is not only his, but an honor for the entire Geneseo campus.