Students Distribute 10,000 Roses for Genocide Awareness

“What’s with the rose?”

The question buzzed around the Forty Acres today. Many were puzzled at first sight of the long-stemmed white roses tied with orange ribbons and informational cards held by so many students, professors, and other pedestrians.

Today UT’s White Rose Society distributed an incredible 10,000 roses on campus to commemorate the 10,000 people killed each day at the World War II Auschwitz extermination camp. Funding from organizations like Texas Parents, Student Government, and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement enables the $5,000 commemoration to happen.

The event is designed not just to commemorate the Holocaust (in years past the day coincided with Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day), but also to raise awareness about genocide and human rights in general.

UT’s White Rose Society was founded in 2004, and this marked the 7th year its members distributed its flowers on campus. The group takes its name from the first White Rose Society, founded at the University of Munich in 1942 by a group of students and a professor who protested the Nazis.

“We bring in speakers from all over the world who share their experiences and their views about human rights,” says event coordinator Mirusha Yogarajah. “This event is also a sort of campus-wide invitation to get involved.”

Among today’s rose-bearing volunteers were students from a McNeil High School German class. “We’ve been learning about the history of the White Rose Society. It’s awesome that UT has a group dedicated to similar ideals,” says Jeffrey Williams, a senior at McNeil.

“Some people seem a little confused when we offer them a rose,” Williams says, “but they’ve all been really receptive, especially after they realize what this is all about.”

Yogarajah added, “I think that a ton of people were reverent of the memorial to the Holocaust, and they were really awe-inspired because they could visibly conceptualize 10,000 people.”

Photos by Jeff Heimsath


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