More than 900 NDSU faculty, students and staff packed the Memorial Union Ballroom Feb. 23 for a memorial service to honor four students who died in a tragic Feb. 20 car accident near Alexandria, Minn. The attendees came to mourn the deaths of freshmen Jordan Playle of Elk River, Minn.; Lauren Peterson of Prior Lake, Minn.; Danielle Renninger of Excelsior, Minn.; and Megan Sample of Rogers, Minn.
“We are gathered this evening to remember four very special young women,” President Dean L. Bresciani told the standing room only crowd in the Memorial Union Ballroom. “We are here to remember how fragile life can be.”
Brecsciani continued, “Our lives, our university, this world were touched by these four women in a very special way, and that we must never forget.”
During the service, Playle, Peterson, Renninger and Sample were described as “bright, bold and beautiful” women, who were filled with life. A video produced by other students said they brought fun and laughter to people around them.
“In this time together, we share, we remember, we cry and we celebrate,” said Rev. Theta W. Miller, director of the United Campus Ministry, who led the memorial service. “May our hearts be open as we continue sharing.”
Many of the attendees wore purple to honor the victims. An empty desk symbolized the lost lives.
“These are sad and difficult times for our campus,” said Cam Knutson, student body president. He said there is a strong unity at NDSU, noting some classes have held moments of silence and many students have shared memories with local media for news stories. “We’ve seen our campus come together.”
The memorial service was followed with a silent candlelight vigil on the east patio of the Memorial Union.