It’s been a tough year at the University of Wyoming. Several students there died, including two deaths by suicide in about a week.
By the time UW students return from summer break, a new plaza will be built, commemorating all students whose lives were cut short while they were enrolled at the University.
The project was approved by the Associated Students of UW two years ago. The group’s vice president, Emily Kath, says it seems even more appropriate now, following this year’s tragedies.
“I heard from a lot of students, like, ‘We don’t have an outlet to talk to people,” says Kath. “We don’t have an outlet to display our emotion on campus.’ So, I think this will be a great way for students to reflect in that way. With the last year, I think that students really felt like that place was missing on campus.”
ASUW will spend about $235,000 on the memorial—which represents about a quarter of the annual budget the student government organization collects in student fees.
The student memorial is being built on the central campus field known as ‘prexy’s pasture’—between the University’s student union and recreation center. It will look like most of the other plazas on campus, but include an inscription honoring deceased students. Kath says the phrase ‘always a cowboy’ will likely be included. The memorial won’t include the names of specific students.
Kath says she hopes the plaza will become a permanent place for reflection and remembrance—outlasting any particular tragedy.
“I think it’s really difficult when a student passes because no one knows the correct way to handle that,” says Kath. “So, the idea is to build something that is long-term—that students can visit for years to come.”