Maura’s Voice Memorial Service Launches New FSU Initiative
On November 2, 2022, Florida State University held a memorial service to remember the fourth anniversary of the 2018 shooting at a Tallahassee yoga studio that took the lives of FSU student Maura Binkley and FSU professor Dr. Nancy Van Vessem and injured five others.
The event was organized through the Maura’s Voice Research Fund, established in 2019 by Jeff and Margaret Binkley, Maura’s parents, to focus on researching and responding to the complex causes and effects of gun violence.
During the event, the “Florida State United: One Voice Against Hate” initiative was launched to bring more awareness to hate-motivated violence, as well as to conduct research and educate the FSU community about prevention and intervention. “This is an initiative for the university to step up, to take that stand and to put that voice against hate at work,” said Jeff Binkley.
The impetus for the initiative started when Jeff Binkley was honored in September 2022 by President Joe Biden as a “Uniter” at a United We Stand Summit at the White House. Binkley and other individuals were recognized for their exemplary work in addressing the destructive impact of hate-fueled violence on public safety.
“This is something we’re kicking off. So many communities in this country have been impacted by hate-fueled violence beyond the tragedy that my family and other families have experienced,” said Binkley about the initiative. “The impact on communities is real, and it’s permanent.”
The Florida State United initiative shares a common goal with Maura’s Voice to address hate and violence but targets specifically the university community at Florida State.
“This is higher purpose work and we’re thrilled and honored to be doing this,” remarked Jim Clark, FSU provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs. “We are committed at Florida State to do this work and to make a significant difference.”
The event gathered friends and family of Maura Binkley and Nancy Van Vessem including members of the Tri Delta Sorority, College of Social Work and university community to honor their memory. Following speeches, the event included a “Chalk for Maura” segment of the service for writing uplifting messages with colorful chalk on the sidewalk followed by a candle-lighting vigil.
“As Maura and Nancy exemplified in their lives, love is the most important work we can do,” stated Binkley to attendees. “Always remember that only love can conquer hate.”