Hundreds gather for outdoor vigil despite heavy rain

By Kay Nguyen

View photos from tonight’s vigil in memory of Corey Jackson here:

About 500 members of the Oakland University and surrounding communities congregated outside Vandenberg Hall at 10 p.m. Wednesday to honor the memory of Corey Jackson.

Students originally planned for a candlelight vigil to take place on the Bear Lake bridge, but heavy rain and high winds forced the meeting to take place closer to shelter.

Crowds huddled together, sharing umbrellas, straining to hear student Matthew Perry sing “Amazing Grace.” Various students took to the microphone to express their emotions.

Jackson committed suicide Tuesday on campus. Since then there has been an outpouring of support for the deceased 19-year-old student from Warren. Senior Spanish major Amy Ring quickly organized the vigil after hearing the news of his death.

Along with other friends and family members, Ring spoke about Jackson and acceptance. Students wore purple in response to recent gay suicides across the country. Jackson was openly gay.

The vigil ended at about 11 p.m.

“It was very heartfelt and deep listening to everyone’s stories about him, and I am extremely appreciative by all the respect shown by the speakers and everyone involved to the family,” said junior biomedical engineering major Brett McIsaac, who also helped set up the event. “What was surprising to me was how many people stood out there in silence and got completely soaked — it was really touching.”

Various members of the campus community from the student body, faculty, staff and administration lended a hand.

Justine Roy, a sophomore, said Corey was one of her best friends. She said she was very close to Jackson, who was also a sophomore.

“I loved him so much; he’s always going to be in my heart,” Roy said. “I’m never going to forget him.”

She said she came to the vigil because she knew Jackson would want her to be there. She thought the event went well and said there was a good turnout, but that “there were some people that were just talking and it didn’t seem like they were there for Corey.”

The OU Greek community also showed their support for Jackson. McIsaac is a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, where Jackson had been during winter semester, and said many TKE brothers helped at the vigil.

“Corey lived to please people; he lived to make everyone around him happy,” Roy said. “He gave off this positive aura, this positive vibe that you couldn’t help but be happy and smile.”

Roy is considering getting a tattoo in memory of Jackson.

Senior political science major Katie Simons came out for the event even though she did not know Jackson.

“I wanted to show my support for all those affected by suicide,” she said.

Read more about Jackson here.