Vigil Pays Tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Zahra Ahmed and Samantha Semerau passing the flame during a moving vigil (Photo by Peach Norman Owen).

This past weekend, several leaders across campus spoke at Albion College’s American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Ruth Bader Ginsberg Candlelight Vigil.

Samantha Semerau, junior from Oakland Township, passes the vigil flame to Sheridan Leinbach, a first-year from Lansing (Photo by Peach Norman Owen).

The vigil paid tribute to the late supreme court justice, who passed away Sept. 18 from complications due to her pancreatic cancer.

Ginsberg, known as RBG, was a strong voice for women. She was known for her constant fight for women everywhere, whether it was the right to possess a credit card in their name or writing the plaintiff’s brief for Reed vs. Reed on the 14th Amendment

Zahra Ahmed, a junior from Rochester Hills, is the current president of Student Senate and a member of AAUW, had a hand in speaking at and organizing the vigil this past weekend.

“When I first heard about it, I was stunned because RBG had gone through so much, and I think we all assumed she was a powerhouse and would somehow keep going,” said Ahmed. “Then, I realized the impact of it, and how it makes the upcoming election so much more important for people to vote in.” 

The vigil was held around the campus quad rock, where students stood around and lit candles followed by a moment of silence.

Emily Eggenberger, senior from Alma, gives a speech about what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy means to her (Photo by Peach Norman Owen)

“I thought as Albion students, it was especially important for us to really reflect on what this situation means for ourselves personally, our community and the nation at large,” said Ahmed. 

Ahmed mentioned that it was difficult to set up the event, but she thanked AAUW President Samantha Semerau for her hard work in creating the vigil as a safe space.

I think the hardest part was creating structure around the event to voice students’ views and feelings while also allowing us to reflect on it,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed said that both men and women can contribute to fulfilling RBG’s efforts and that seeing her goals and accomplishments celebrated despite this difficult time is exciting.

I think RBG’s notion of both men and women contributing to bringing up the next generation applies in various fields,” said Ahmed. “I think that attitude is something that people of all genders should work towards, and that will, as RBG said, lead to equality.”

Ahmed went on to say that RBG has also allowed for more progression and awareness when it comes to her presidency of Student Senate.

Members of the Albion College community gathered to pay respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The event was co-sponsored by AAUW and Student Senate who provided candles for each participating member to hold during a time of silent reflection (Photo by Peach Norman Owen).

We also have been doing a lot more work with being conscious of how we help students feel like they belong here. In RBG’s case, she was fighting for the acknowledgement of women as individuals,” said Ahmed. “Right now, there’s lots of other groups of individuals who aren’t seen as or don’t feel like they’re treated as human, so we can learn from RGB and carry on her fight for justice to other underrepresented groups.” 

RBG’s impact on college students is not limited to Albion. Her death has sparked students from all over the country to write and speak on behalf of her eternal impact and push for change in the world of law and politics, a world once dominated by men. 

“For me, reading about her work now, it seems unbelievable to me that such gender restrictions existed,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed strives to push to help students become advocates for institutional change and get the better tomorrow that our country deserves in both of her roles on campus.

“RBG is an iconic leader who pushed for what she believed in, I admire her courage and strength to fight for what seemed so radical in her surroundings,” said Ahmed. “She was an icon in her strength and firm belief in justice.”

Zahra Ahmed, junior from Rochester Hills, and Keena Williams, associate dean and president’s special advisor for global diversity, participate in the candlelit vigil (Photo by Peach Norman Owen).

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