Our thoughts, now, are with Matt's mom and his dad, his brother, and all of Matt's friends and fellow students.
We are heartsick to believe that anyone could have acted against him with such unimaginable violence, motivated by irrational personal prejudice and hate. His suffering is over. Ours, as a community continues.
This tragedy has tested our endurance and our sense of community. But, instead of being torn apart by fear, we have been brought together in unity and in purpose. We took to the streets to join a parade of celebration for the life of Matthew Shepard and we gathered last night for a vigil to pray for his recovery. Unfortunately, not all prayers are answered.
We must use Matt's example in life to work against hatred, bigotry, and violence.
We must continue to ensure that this University, city and state are places where students can come together to learn and to develop to their full potential without fear of discrimination or prejudice.
And we must continue to keep Matt Shepard and his family first in our minds and our hearts. Their courage in the face of tragedy should serve to guide us all in the difficult days ahead.
In memory of Matt and out of respect for his family and friends, I have - with the concurrence of Gov. Geringer - ordered flags to be flown at half staff over the Laramie campus through the day of Matt's funeral.
"REMEMBERING MATTHEW" SET FOR UW CAMPUS TODAY
October 12, 1998 – A community ceremony "Remembering Matthew" will be held today, 5:30 p.m. at the Prexy’s Pasture flagpole on the University of Wyoming campus.
Organized by UW students in memory of Matthew Shepard, the ceremony will feature ringing of the University carillon; remarks by Jesus Rios, president, Associated Students – University of Wyoming; Jim Hurst, UW vice president for Student Affairs; Bernita Quoss, president, UW Faculty Senate; Jim Osborn, chair, UW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Association; a prayer by Fr. Roger Schmidt, pastor, Newman Center, St. Paul’s Catholic Church; and a musical tribute by Rob Spaulding, ASUW executive for state relations. A moment of silence will conclude the ceremony.
Plans are being developed for a community-wide memorial service for
Matthew. Details will be announced following consultation with the Shepard
CITY OF LARAMIE RESPONSE TO THE DEATH OF MATTHEW SHEPARD
Oct. 12, 1998 -- This information is being distributed by the University of Wyoming as a courtesy to the City of Laramie. Call Mayor Trudy McCraken at (307) 721-5226.
"On behalf of the City of Laramie, we want to convey to the Matthew Shepard family our sincere condolences. As a community, we are grieved by the loss of one of our citizens. This loss has touched everyone in the community.
For the next week, our community, including the University of Wyoming, will take time to express our sympathy, reflect, and begin to heal. The healing, process has already started with candlelight vigils and community gatherings to remember Mr. Shepard. This will continue throughout the week as we contemplate about Mr. Shepard, his family and friends, and the suspects’ families and friends. This tragic incident has touched the souls of Laramie. We will continue to stand together and keep our faith by concentrating on the goodness of Laramie.
Laramie is a community proud of our diversity and heritage. As a member of the "Equality State," Laramie will continue to be a leader in ensuring that all our citizens are treated equally, fairly, and protected of their individual rights.
Over the next few weeks, there will be opportunities as a state to discuss hate crime legislation. This includes a statewide legislative conference with all Wyoming communities, counties, and state legislators that will be conducted by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and Wyoming County Commissioners Association in Casper on Oct. 16 and 17. Even though this conference had been previously planned, possible hate crime legislation will be discussed. This opportunity will allow the leaders of Wyoming to consider this issue together.
The City of Laramie will continue to provide a high quality of life for our citizens. One element of this quality of life is our community’s compassion and partnership. Together, we will heal and learn from this incident."
Speak Out Against Bigotry and Hatred
>From time to time, tragic events remind us that crimes of hate and
continue to be a major failing in our society. But tragedies such as the one in
Wyoming involving Matthew Shepard begin with small acts of aggression.
Whether it be an offensive remark scrawled on a wall, an anonymous flyer
inciting hatred, or a slur overheard in a hallway, acts of bigotry debase us all. We
must all therefore actively condemn both the acts themselves and their
Some people find it threatening to encounter people different from themselves.
Some respond to this sense of being threatened by making cruel and degrading
remarks or gestures which belittle the person who is different. What's more, even
if we ourselves are not the offenders, we may stand idly by while others
demonstrate hostility toward people whose sexual orientation, religion, race,
ethnicity, or gender differs from our own. Yet it is precisely that indifference, that
willingness to let cruelty and intolerance pass unremarked, which we must
How much easier life would be if each of us were responsible only for
herself. But in each of us is connected to the fate of everyone else in very
important ways. In the context of developing respect for human differences, this
principle requires us to do more than just refrain from speaking or acting in a
hateful manner. I believe it also requires us to speak out against hatred and
bigotry, no matter when or where we find them. Each of us must actively
encourage that respect for human rights and dignity which lies at the heart of our
American ethic and which is essential for an academic community.
In recent years the University of Southern California has taken many
steps toward promoting tolerance and mutual respect within our academic
community. Committees have met and deliberated, policies have been
promulgated, and acts of gross bigotry have been forthrightly condemned by the
But institutions and officials can do relatively little about the small
of harassment and intimidation which we as individuals may allow to go
unchallenged. As long as we let those small moments pass without calling
attention to the injustice they represent, the threat to justice everywhere will
Thus, I call upon all of us to remember our responsibilities to ourselves
other by speaking out against bigotry and intolerance whenever and wherever
they occur. Only by this vigilance in our daily lives can we help make justice
What we must have at this University is a basic respect for the rights
people to hold their own beliefs, to be the way they are, and to work, learn and
prosper in peace within our academic community. No law can mandate that
everyone adore everyone else; but in our USC community we can expect
everyone to respect the rights and dignity of everyone else. Indeed we must
Steven B. Sample
President, University of Southern California
October 16, 1998
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs