Community members gathered in a semicircle at the University’s Marriott Library Gould Auditorium on Monday evening to begin the healing process following the death of student-athlete Aaron Lowe.
Lowe was a sophomore football player studying communications. He was originally from Mesquite, Texas, and the first recipient of the Ty Jordan Scholarship – another former U football player who died last Christmas.
Lowe was shot and killed at a house party at Sugarhouse hours after midnight Sunday. He is the fifth U student to be killed in the past five years.
The event, “Journey Towards Healing,” hosted by the Black Cultural Center, was meant to be a place for the campus black community – students and faculty alike – to come together to share and discuss their emotions surrounding the death of Lowe.
Rachel Alicia Griffin, associate professor at the University of Utah, said she had Lowe in two of her classes.
She read part of Lowe’s paper from her class where he wrote about people’s lack of knowledge about African American history and the effects that are still being felt today with mass incarceration and brutality. policewoman.
“Not many people know the history of our culture,” Lowe wrote. “I just want to assure you that our people have been fighting for 400 years and that this continues and that we are still suffering from lynchings, of being in jail for crimes we did not commit and of murders by the cops. The last thing I want to see is my own flesh and blood leaving this earth this way.
University administrators remembered Lowe as a brother, a son, and a “talented young black man.”
Griffin said his death was not as shocking as the administration wrote in its press release. She asked them to be more racially aware of the messages they sent to the community.
“The news of another black man dying from gun violence is not at all shocking,” Griffin said. “In American culture, this is the tragically mundane source of predictable grief, especially in the black community.”
She also asked the campus leadership about efforts to support African American students and faculty.
University president Taylor Randall said he knew his life experiences as a white man influenced his view of what happened to Lowe. He said it was a limited vision and he had a lot to learn. Randell said that an important part of this educational process is listening to the needs of the community.
“I think what I’d like to learn through this is how we can change these messages and how we can be part of the healing process,” Randall said. “I hope we can talk about the pain we share here.”
Other members who were participating virtually asked how university leaders would engage in broader conversations about gun violence in light of Lowe’s death.
University of Utah Acting Police Chief Jason Hinojosa said it was important to have conversations about gun violence with the campus community and law enforcement as they do not talk about it enough.
Salt Lake City Police are still investigating Lowe’s case, they said they have “promising” witnesses.