One Week After Shooting, Seattle Pacific Prepares For Graduation

Jun 13, 2014

Ivy encircles the Tiffany Loop on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.
Ivy encircles the Tiffany Loop on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.
Credit Patricia Murphy

It’s been a week since a gunman open fire on the Seattle Pacific University campus killing one student and injuring two others.

The mood was different Friday as students and loved ones celebrated the university’s annual Ivy Cutting. The ceremony, a tradition since 1922, represents the cutting of students' ties to the university and the independence following graduation.

During the ceremony Seattle Pacific president Daniel Martin said it would be inauthentic to ignore  what had happened the week before, when 26-year-old Aaron Rey Ybarra entered Otto Miller Hall, the science and engineering building, and opened fire.

But Martin said that it also wouldn’t be right if the shooting overshadowed these celebratory moments. Graduation at the conservative Christian school is this weekend.

“We are a place that lives what it believes,” he said. “Where our Christian identity is foundational. A place that represents the very best of what it means to be an academic community of faith.”

Zach Christensen will graduate on Saturday with a degree in theater.  He says the conversation since the shooting has centered on the idea that these years have been a time of formation.

“The tragedy sort of strips away and you become a truer version of yourself in many ways,” Christensen said. “And we should mourn and lament and be sad about what has happened. But the way in which we do that doesn’t have to be vengeful or angry.”

Graduating students form a circle beneath the elm trees, holding onto the long strand of ivy. The ivy is then cut at each point, leaving a piece for each graduate.

Meantime, a remembrance fund at the university in has grown to more than $24,000.