AUSTIN (KXAN) — Students at the University of Texas will mark a solemn anniversary Monday night.
One year ago, 18-year-old freshman Theatre and Dance student Haruka Weiser was found dead in Waller Creek on campus.
Sylvia Fadalli, Weiser’s roomate, read a letter from the victim’s family at the 8 p.m. memorial ceremony: “As much as we do not want to remember what happened to her we do understand how important it is to remember this tragedy so the UT community and beyond can continue to work on campus safety and building a stronger community.”
It was determined Weiser was murdered on the campus on the way back to her dorm after her family says she had finished preparing for the upcoming dance performance. 18-year-old Meechaiel Criner was charged for her death and is awaiting trial. Because he was 17 at the time of the crime, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
University President Greg Fenves is encouraging the community to attend the ceremony being held at 8 p.m. on the Main Mall of the campus to “continue the healing process that began a year ago.”
UT police will be releasing a new ‘Be Safe’ logo intended to honor Weiser. The ‘Be Safe’ campaign was launched after Weiser’s murder in an effort to encourage folks to look out for one another and make students aware of safety resources that are available them, like rides on campus from UT police.
Weiser’s family sent out a statement days before the anniversary encouraging everyone to use it as an inspiration to display random acts of kindness, such as buying a cup of coffee or complimenting others.
The full statement:
As April is approaching, we have been thinking about how we will be facing the anniversary of the worst day of our life.
On April 3, 2016, our beloved daughter Haruka was murdered on the campus of UT Austin on the way back to her dorm after she finished preparing for the upcoming dance performance. It was around 9:30 pm. As much as we do not want to remember what happened to her, we do understand how important it is to remember this tragedy, so that schools that Haruka attended, UT Austin and ACMA can continue to work on campus safety and building stronger communities.
At the same time, we want to remember that day in a special way so everyone will always remember who she was. On that day, Haruka became an angel for everyone. She became a teacher to guide us with her bright faith. Her light lifts our hearts even when we are in the darkest moments of our life. Her light continues to remind us of the goodness in us, in all humankind. Haruka was an innocent victim of a random act of violence.
As we were reminded during her funeral service, violence does not have the last word. Rather, we found ourselves completely surrounded by people who deeply care about us. Kindness, caring and grace are the lasting words for us and a tribute to Haruka.
As we carry Haruka’s legacy, on April 3, we kindly ask you to do small random acts of kindness to anyone around you such as buying a cup of coffee or lunch, complimenting others, anything you can do. You might feel like walking away from your friends who are suffering because you do not know what to say or what to do. You do not always need words. You can just walk along with them or just sit with them. We all can feel the presence of people who truly care. Show the world to inspire. Share acts of kindness on your social media by posting a heart as a symbol of love and kindness. Every act counts. Everyone counts. Each of us has a reason to exist on this earth. Such small acts of kindness remind us why we came to this world — to make this world a better place.
Thank you for your continued support and care of our family. We look forward to seeing seeds of love continue to sprout throughout the world. Walk with me, Walk with each other.
Shortly after her death, the university launched a comprehensive safety study to determine what changes should be made in campus security.
They include upgrading lighting systems, pathways, and security cameras, increasing police presence and increasing nighttime transportation and emergency call boxes on and off campus.
Changes made to the Waller Creek area, where Weiser’s body was found, include changes to the landscape: trees have been cut to make the area visible.
“Haruka Weiser will never be forgotten,” Fenves said. “Her memory is a bright light that will guide us for years to come. She will always inspire us. Haruka is a Longhorn forever.”