By Eiman Zuberi–

Last Friday evening, over 400 U of L students gathered on the turf fields behind the SRC to pay their respects to their late classmate, Najam Mughal.

Mughal passed away on Jan. 1, leaving behind shocked and saddened fraternity brothers, co-workers, roommates, classmates and most of all, friends. It was evident from the large turnout at the vigil that Mughal had impacted the lives of everyone he had met, in one way or another.

Mughal was a highly spirited student, best remembered for his broad smile and humorous points. His death brought a sudden confusion to all who knew him. Mughal had a selfless, genuine personality. He was an unquestionably involved student; he belonged to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity (SigEp), Habitat for Humanity, and Freshman LEAD, just to name a few. He was also an employee at the SRC, as front desk and equipment desk and as an Intramural Sport Event Assistant.

Justin Peterson was Najam’s boss for roughly a year and a half.

“Najam was someone who quickly became a close friend of mine. We would hang out on weekends, ride bikes from campus to the waterfront, and play video games for hours,” Peterson said.

He recalled sitting at home on New Years Day, watching college football when he heard the tragic news. He described himself as being in “shock and disbelief.”

“We have a tendency to not appreciate things until they are gone and the same can be said about friendships,” Peterson said. “[If I could go back] I would tell Najam how great of a friend he was.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon created a page for the vigil on Facebook, called “In Memory of Najam Mughal.” Students were encouraged to post their favorite memories of Najam on the page. Most, if not all, were amusing stories about the things Najam had said or done- emphasizing how he was rarely serious and always grinning.

Junior Madeline Jacob wrote about a trip she took to Perfect North Slopes with Mughal and another friend. It was Mughal’s first time snowboarding and his first attempt landed him in the snow almost immediately.

“Of course, he had a big smile on his face the whole time, never getting angry or upset that he kept falling. I laughed harder than I had in a really long time,” Jacob said.

The day of the actual vigil the weather was slightly chilly, but the presence of such a large group of people created a warmth that spread to everyone. Sigma Phi Epsilon president Ryan Long gathered in front of the large crowd, a large portrait of Najam Mughal behind him.

Long thanked the crowd for coming and then gave way for speeches. Ryan Tharpe – Mughal’s fraternity big, Stephanie Dooper and Raymond White all three spoke

“I think everyone here can agree that we will always remember Najam’s smile,” White said.

When the speeches were finished, the mourners walked from Kurz Hall to the front of the SigEp house, located on Greek Row. Police cars blocked off the intersection on Fourth Street as the line moved. When everyone had gathered, candles were lit and one final speech was presented by Johnathan Shanklin, a very close friend of Mughal’s. Afterwards, Tera Pierce sang “Amazing Grace.” Amidst the tears and candlelight, John Evanko finished the vigil with a prayer. Attendees were then encouraged to sign a book with their favorite memories of Najam that was to be presented to his mother.

Long remembered meeting Najam when they both were employed at the SRC.

“I took on a supervisor position so I was sort of his boss. Najam did not take well to authority, as he never does,” Long said.

Long talked about the deep passion for basketball both he and Najam shared.

“We played basketball with teams Najam put together because he had never met a stranger. But we lost every single game because Najam was more confident than good.”

He recalled the time when he and Najam were playing basketball in the SRC and Najam’s name was called on the intercom. Najam froze up and told Ryan he was actually supposed to be working. So Najam took out his phone and called in sick. He told Long that he enjoyed spending time with him too much.

“So many people, some who had only met him for five minutes, were coming up to me and thanking me for holding the vigil. Someone who impacts a campus like that deserves to be remembered,” said Long.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” Long said. “He was loved by all. He not only brought a fraternity together but he brought an entire campus community together.”

Long illustrated how his chapter plans on dealing with the whole situation.

“In my position, it’s hard. You have to look at what to do immediately, how to respect the family and how to take care of yourself. I want to take care of my brothers because everyone grieves differently.”

To remember Najam Mughal, SigEp will hang up the portrait of him in their house, along with a personalized brick. They will also put his initials on their intramural jerseys.

“Thank you to everyone for their overwhelming support. We should all love sacrificially like [Najam] did.” Long said.

Photo by Sam Crowder / The Louisville Cardinal