The Armenian Genocide Monument at Fresno State was unveiled this past April 23 in the presence of an estimated crowd of 4,000 plus. Since then, it has remained a focal point for Armenians in the region, who continue to visit the campus to see the Monument. The only Monument of its kind on a college campus in the country, the Monument brings awareness to not only the Armenian Genocide, but also genocides committed in numerous other countries around the world.
Armenians take great pride in the Monument and its significance cannot be underestimated. But what does the Monument mean to the everyday Fresno State student? Are they familiar with the history behind it?
The Monument is located on the major East-West thoroughfare of campus and thousands of students pass by each day. Students who entered the Monument space were asked their thoughts. The responses received were as diverse and varied as the students themselves.
Michael Vu, a Fresno State freshman and a second-generation Hmong immigrant, stated that like the Armenian people, his people had also gone through genocide and, because of this shared circumstance, he was very much aware of the Armenian Genocide. He had a very positive view of the Monument saying that, “It’s really cool the university would do something like this. I hope the Hmong people can one day have something similar on campus.”
The next few students were familiar with Armenians, but not so familiar with the Armenian Genocide. This sentiment was echoed by junior Sarah Stout, who stated “I can’t believe something like this happened. We don’t really learn about it in school.” For her, the Monument was a huge eye opener into a tragedy she knew little about.
Collectively, the students all showed genuine interest in the Monument and in learning more about the Armenian Genocide. They were drawn in by the new and unfamiliar structure, but once inside, they learned about a history many previously knew nothing about.
Michael Walker, Fresno State senior, first found out about the Monument and the Armenian Genocide this past April. Upon leaving a late afternoon class, he had seen the large crowd that had gathered for the unveiling and “walked over to see what was going on and ended up staying for most of the ceremony.” Walker continued by stating “I was really impressed by the togetherness of the people and the pride everyone had for the monument.” His experience is one that is similar to many students on campus; it has opened their eyes to a history and a past they previously knew little about.
The opportunity to expose the younger generations of our community to the history of the Genocide is one of the greatest benefits the Monument has to offer.
The Monument will be a way for students to become better aware of the Armenian Genocide.