By Carol Moran
Eighteen white candles stood flickering on a table along with a bouquet of pink and white flowers. Students, faculty members and staff occupied the Student Activities Center ballroom, filling the seats and lining the walls at the vigil held in memory of Yanique Bailey, the 19-year-old Stony Brook sophomore found murdered on February 22.
Mark Bailey, Yanique’s father, shot Yanique, her younger sister, Yolonne, and her mother, Dionne, before shooting himself in the forehead. He left a note on the table that read, “I’m sorry. Love, Mark.”
Four counselors stood in a row at the back of the room, tissues in hand.
Bailey’s close friends were present, as well as her acquaintances and other students who hadn’t known her well. Those that knew her mourned the friend they had lost. One student, who hadn’t known her, said he wished he had.
Bailey, a biology major and business minor at Stony Brook, was a dancer, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Hand College Hall Council, according to friends and an email sent out by President Samuel Stanley.
“Tonight we share our sorrow as we recall the blessing that was Yanique’s life,” said Reverend Brenda Ford, Chaplain of Protestant Campus Ministry. Prayers were said as each candle was lit.
Students hugged each other in consolation as Ford spoke.
“We were best friends,” Brianna Burge, a sophomore at Stony Brook, said through tears. “Even when she was upset, she was just the most amazing thing.”
Near the entrance, students wrote memories of Yanique on paper doves that are now displayed in Hand College. Kind words were written on cards to be sent to Bailey’s family.
Students, faculty and staff organized the vigil, offering prayers and memories. Two students sang “One Sweet Day” in duet from the front of the room.
“I know of no words that will allow me to make sense of this tragedy,” President Stanley said from the podium at the front of the room. He told all to honor her by making a difference in the world through a smile or a gesture, in hopes that “something good can come of this.”
Twenty-two members of the Stony Brook Gospel Choir dressed in black and red filled the room with their voices as they sang the closing hymn. Everyone in the room grasped hands as parting words were said.
“Yanique was an extraordinary person,” Dean of Students Jerrold Stein said. “She’ll still be a part of us.”