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Sorority holds candlelit vigil for murdered alumna

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By Jonathon Peters


University at Albany’s Asian interest sorority Kappa Phi Lambda was disturbed to discover what happened to one of their sisters this past summer.

Alumna Sunny Kim was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in South Korea. Her body was taken to a desolate area and buried in cement, police reported. Kim ended their relationship days before because of his prior domestic abuse.

Kappa Phi Lambda’s publicity chair, Tianna Le, wanted to know how something like this could have happened. “Her death sounded like something right out of a horror movie,” Le said.

The members of the organization’s Upsilon chapter visited the UAlbany administration. They believed something needed to be done about Kim’s death, as well as all the other domestic violence cases around the world.

The organization hosted “Shine the Light,” a week of open events to spread awareness of domestic violence and to educate the community on the lasting effects it can have on the victims. The week consisted of self-defense training, workshops, movie screenings, and was concluded with an honorary candle lighting at the Main Fountain on Thursday.

Jonathon Peters / Albany Student Press
Jonathon Peters / Albany Student Press

People gathered at the fountain to hear speeches, and the sorority sisters read poems.  As they lit the candles, there was a moment of silence for Kim. Kappa members then encouraged anyone who had been or knew a victim to share their experience.  “She was an alumna and from my chapter,” Le said. “We had to make sure we did this night right.”

UAlbany was one of 10 schools selected to host a “10 Points of Light” candle lighting in memory of a domestic violence victim.  Take Back the Night is an organization working to raises awareness of sexual violence. Every April and October, chosen schools host the “10 Points of Light” event on the same night.

Many students and faculty came out to support the sorority’s cause. Student Involvement Assistant Director Arleny Alvarez-Peña said everything ran smoothly from the sideline on Thursday. “Tonight provides healing for our community,” Alvery-Peña said. She said it’s ceremonies like these that bring people together and help them grow.

The chapter spent the month raising money and collecting supplies for women that have been victims of abusive relationships. A colorful assortment of products – beauty supplies, shampoos, soaps, and toothpaste – were laid out at the entrance of the candle lighting. People made care packages with personalized messages to send to Equinox, a shelter in the Capital District that assists domestic violence victims as well as victims of substance abuse and mental illness. 

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