Oct. 12, 1998 – I am deeply saddened by this morning’s news that Matthew Shepard died today without having gained consciousness from the terrible, fatal beating he received last week.

Our thoughts, now, are with Matt’s mom and his dad, his brother, and all of Matt’s friends and fellow students.

We are heartsick to believe that anyone could have acted against him with such unimaginable violence, motivated by irrational personal prejudice and hate. His suffering is over. Ours, as a community continues.

This tragedy has tested our endurance and our sense of community. But, instead of being torn apart by fear, we have been brought together in unity and in purpose. We took to the streets to join a parade of celebration for the life of Matthew Shepard and we gathered last night for a vigil to pray for his recovery. Unfortunately, not all prayers are answered.

We must use Matt’s example in life to work against hatred, bigotry, and violence.

We must continue to ensure that this University, city and state are places where students can come together to learn and to develop to their full potential without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

And we must continue to keep Matt Shepard and his family first in our minds and our hearts. Their courage in the face of tragedy should serve to guide us all in the difficult days ahead.

In memory of Matt and out of respect for his family and friends, I have – with the concurrence of Gov. Geringer – ordered flags to be flown at half staff over the Laramie campus through the day of Matt’s funeral.

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