A Memorial Grove will be unveiled on Nov. 12, Framingham State University announced in an email sent out to students and faculty by Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway.
During the ceremony, Holloway said, “I’m going to read the names of students that have passed in the last decade.” The ceremony will also include the reinterring of former FSU student Asako Mazawa’s ashes.
The idea of a memorial site at FSU had been in works since the summer of 2014 after the death of Randall Chamberlain, a laborer for Absolute Finishing, according to President F. Javier Cevallos.
Chamberlain fell 20 feet in an accident while working on the Hemenway Labs construction site on July 23, 2014. Chamberlain would later die the next day, after having succumbed to his injuries.
“It was my idea … we didn’t have a place on campus we could congregate when something sad happens. We have many places to celebrate which is great. … But sad things do happen,” Cevallos said.
The deaths of FSU student Darius Theriault and FSU alumnus Emily Zarnoch this past summer cemented his belief that a memorial site on campus was “important,” Cevallos said.
“It was very sad,” he said, and added he hopes the Memorial Grove will bring the community together in times of tragedy.
“I’m not a psychologist or counselor, but I do believe it helps bring closure to something sad,” he said.
The upcoming fifteenth anniversary of Sept. 11 was also a factor in Cevallos’ decision to create a memorial site. The president said he was concerned by the lack of attention the recent anniversary of the terrorist attacks received on campus.
“This year we had 9/11 going by and … we didn’t do anything. We were kind of running around, not thinking about it. The next year, certainly, is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, so it would be sad not to have some sort of recognition of the remembrance of the day,” he said.
Holloway, who has overseen the development of the Memorial Grove, said the campus needs a place where members of the FSU community can reflect on those no longer with us.
“That’s really kind of the goal,” Holloway said.
FSU’s Memorial Grove will be located “across the street from the Southwest corner of Larned Hall,” according to Holloway.
The actual construction of the Memorial Grove began a month ago, according to Fairbanks.
“There’s been a lot of conversation and a lot of talk about what we’re doing but we kind of winged it, to tell you the truth,” Fairbanks said.
Due to the limited space available on campus, it was difficult to settle on a location for the Memorial Grove. However, those involved in selecting the site agreed it had to be conducive to “holding ceremonies and reflection,” Fairbanks said.
Despite initial difficulties in finding a location for the Memorial Grove, Fairbanks said he did not have any regrets on the site chosen, he said.
It was in mid-October when the location of the Memorial Grove was chosen, he said.
“Lorretta said, ‘Hey, why don’t we put it here?’” So I walked over to it and said, “Okay, it’s not quite as big as I envisioned it, but it’s a good spot,” he said.
Included in the Memorial Grove will be four granite benches that were once in front of the Henry Whittemore Library, according to Fairbanks.
The main focal point of the Memorial Grove, he said, will be a sundial. The sundial in front of May Hall was “my recommendation,” he said, but the sundial was set in a boulder and “it’s kind of historic.”
It was decided by Holloway to leave the May Hall sundial undisturbed and a new one would be purchased by her office, according to Fairbanks. The sundial will be placed on top of a three-four foot tall pedestal.
Around the sundial, Fairbanks said, there will be bricks laid down which can be taken out and replaced with personalized bricks that are engraved with the name of an FSU community member who has passed.
Fairbanks said the bricked section around the sundial connects to a brick walkway but only the bricks in the area of the sundial could be replaced with engraved ones.
“We wanted to incorporate the whole brick theme … we had a whole bunch of bricks,” Fairbanks said. “So it actually looks like we planned to do this.”
Those interested in having a brick that memorializes a deceased member of the FSU community will have to purchase one on their own, said Cevallos.
He added students can purchase a brick for $100, and the University will pay for their installation, if necessary.
The Memorial Grove Dedication Ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. and will be “a place where people can come together to remember, contemplate, and reflect,” said Holloway in her email.