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Hundreds of students gather for vigil after Purdue student found dead in campus dorm

Students placed messages on Purdue’s Unfinished Block P statue following the vigil for Varun Manish Chheda.
Ben Thorp
Students placed messages on Purdue’s Unfinished Block P statue following the vigil for Varun Manish Chheda.

Hundreds of students gathered for a vigil on the campus of Purdue University less than 24 hours after a student was found dead on campus.

Police are currently investigating the death of 20-year old Varun Manish Chheda as a homicide — and have taken his roommate into custody as a suspect.

Wednesday night, students gathered around the Unfinished Block P statue on Purdue’s campus for an impromptu vigil organized by the Residence Hall Association and Asian Student Union Board.

Claire Schnefke is with the Residence Hall Association.

“Any amount of violence on our campus is concerning,” she said. “The death of any Boilermaker is one too many.”

Pamela Sari is the director of the Asian American and Asian Resource Cultural Center at Purdue.

“My encouragement tonight is that we will go through this together in unity as a boilermaker family,” she said.

Katelyn On spoke on behalf of the Asian student union board. She called on students to reflect on Chheda’s life.

“It’s incomprehensibly difficult to deal with the loss of a loved one. We ask all of you guys to send all of our love and support to the loved ones of Varun,” she said.

Following a handful of brief speeches, students held a moment of silence.

Throughout Wednesday night’s events, speakers reminded students they could access counseling resources if they needed to talk about how they were feeling.

As the ceremony closed, students were encouraged to bring messages or candles up to the Unfinished Block P statue and leave them there.

Torin Vandervort, with the Residence Hall Association, brought up some of the messages to the statue.

“Many of them were expressing their condolences and the loss we’re experiencing,” he said. “Some were a little more personal and spoke to who he was. They were just something students wanted public, something people could read.”

A second vigil is planned for next Wednesday.

Copyright 2022 WBAA News.

Benjamin Thorp