Becker Students and Community Brought Together

Published on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Nearly 300 people—Becker College students, faculty and staff, as well as elected officials, neighbors, and members of the press—gathered yesterday afternoon at a memorial for William Smith. Reverend Wilfred Bard, of the New England Dream Center and a member of the Becker Board of Trustees, addressed the crowded quad which bridges Sever and Roxbury Streets in Worcester.

Brian Gorman, head men’s basketball coach at Becker, fondly remembered the young man’s disarming good humor. Smith had aspired to join the basketball team. Gorman also read a heartfelt message from Smith’s extended family.

Though he had only been at Becker a short time, it seemed Smith had no difficulty making friends, and his loss has reached across the campus and the community, bringing students and neighbors together.

In a matter of hours on Sunday, a group of students organized an emotional candlelight march to honor Smith, using facebook to help spread the word. More than 150 students turned out and carried candles in silence from Davis Hall, where Smith lived, to North Ashland Street, where he was killed, just after 2:00 that morning.

Neighbors and local leaders expressed support for students and the College at a Monday vigil organized by Women Together.

According to the Worcester Police Department, they are close to making arrests of those responsible for Smith’s death. Police have indicated that the suspect was among a group of “trouble makers from outside.” “These non-Becker students were the cause of the hostility,” said Capt. Edward McGinn of the Worcester Police Department.

Additional campus police have been added to shifts, and will continue to be on patrol as Becker cooperates with the Worcester Police Department’s investigation and search for those responsible for Smith’s death. The Becker counseling staff will continue to be available for anyone having trouble coping at this difficult time.

Students have initiated a joint program with campus police and counselors, to create opportunities for upperclassmen to share their off-campus experiences with their younger peers and reinforce the safety precautions recommended by the College.

Click here for hometown coverage of news and vigils for William Smith.