‘Remember the 43’: Utah Tech marks Latino Heritage Month by remembering disappeared students

In a file photo, Dixie State, now Utah Tech, student Keilani Young assembles the stand for one of 43 life-sized silhouettes that represent one of the students from a Mexico City university in 2014, St. George, Utah, Sept. 14, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In conjunction with Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month, Utah Tech University is expanding its “Remember the 43 Students” commemoration to honor the lives of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College who disappeared southwest of Mexico City on Sept. 26, 2014.

Photo of the figures that make up “Remember the 43 Students” installation at Utah Tech University, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Courtesy of Dr. Steve Lee, St. George News

As part of the incident, more than 100 Mexican police officers, soldiers and armed men ambushed five buses of students from the Rural Teachers College and another bus carrying a third-division soccer team. In addition to the 43 students who disappeared, six people were killed and more than 40 were wounded.

This year, Utah Tech’s tribute to the 43 students includes two art installations and two guest speakers, according to a news release issued by the university.

“As the eighth anniversary of the atrocity approaches, standing in support of justice is even more important,” said Stephen Lee, organizer of the installation and dean of Utah Tech’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences. “I hope that visitors will engage the complex issues of political violence and economic inequalities with both their heads and their hearts.”

Portraits of each of the 43 students created by Scottish artist Jan Nimmo will be on display in the lobby of Utah Tech’s Dolores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center. Nimmo, who traveled extensively in Guerrero prior to the disappearances to document the work of local artisans, created the series of portraits to raise awareness and emphasize the human face of the victims.

Returning from last year, 43 life-sized silhouettes will be on display on the second floor of the Holland Centennial Commons on the Utah Tech campus. Each figure will represent one of the students and include a short bio about the individual and information about the tragedy.

Photo of a reflective figure from “Remember the 43 Students” installation at Utah Tech University, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Courtesy of Dr. Steve Lee, St. George News

Both art installations will be on display until Sept. 30 in the Eccles lobby.

Also as part of the tribute, investigative journalists Anayansi Diaz-Cortes and Kate Doyle will speak at 4 p.m. on Monday in the Zion Room, located on the fifth floor of the Holland Centennial Commons on the Utah Tech campus. Diaz-Cortes and Doyle are the lead reporters on the “After Ayotzinapa” podcast and radio program.

The “Remember the 43 Students” art installations and events are open to the community. More information about Utah Tech’s commemoration as well as the students’ forced disappearance is available on this website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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