The David Shick Memorial was dedicated Saturday in front of a group of about 150 students, faculty and family members on what would have been Shick’s 21st birthday. Shick’s parents were joined in prayer by University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., while the a capella singing group Superfood performed.
The ceremony emphasized personal prayer and reflection both on Shick’s life and the way in which he died.
Calling for kindness, Deborah Shick, David’s mother, asked everyone present to do a random act of kindness to both loved ones and strangers this week as a final birthday present to David. “Hopefully this will change society so this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” she said.
Last February, Shick died following an altercation in the Lauinger Library parking lot between two groups of students returning from Champions, a local bar. Both groups of students had been drinking.
“We hope that the memorial’s presence on campus will facilitate the continued retelling of Dave’s story among future generations so that they will have the opportunity to internalize those lessons and therefore possibly prevent a similar tragedy in the future,” Joe Matteo, a member of The Friends of David Shick, said. “We feel this will give Dave’s death a constructive purpose.”
David’s father, Jeffrey Shick, asked to see David’s smile on the faces of those present. Recalling Shick’s “funny hats” and penchant for chocolate doughnuts, he made attendees laugh in remembrance of his son. “We knew David as a child,” he said. “You knew him as the adult he was becoming.”
Under construction since Oct. 3, the memorial on the East side of White-Gravenor features a small pond stocked with fish, flowers, stonework, shrubbery and two cascading waterfalls dedicated to Shick.
“The running stream symbolizes the waters of chaos,” O’Donovan said in his prayer and dedication speech. “It symbolizes the waters of the River of Jordan and their healing quality, the baptismal font and the waters of life.”
University Provost Dorothy Brown said the memorial was “a place of friendship, family and strength. It’s a place to come, celebrate life, reflect and be at peace.”
The memorial is being funded by donations from friends, family and students. The university has agreed to pay for any remaining costs not met by donations.
O’Donovan thanked the student leadership responsible for making the memorial a reality. The memorial was constructed because of the efforts of the Friends of David Shick, a privately funded group of Dave’s friends founded to preserve his memory and the lessons of his death.
“This is a wonderful birthday present for David,” rs. Shick said. “I know he is looking down with pleasure.”
During the altercation in the parking lot, Shick was punched, fell and hit his head on the ground, resulting in his death four days later at the Georgetown University Medical Center. The district medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
In June, U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis declined to press charges against the individuals involved in the incident, citing Department of Justice policy under which indictments are pursued only if there is a likelihood of conviction. Lewis hinted that Shick’s role in the fight would have limited that likelihood.
Following the U.S. Attorney’s decision not to pursue an indictment, Georgetown resumed its disciplinary inquiry, which was completed in August. The hearing lasted for 17 hours and included testimony from individuals involved on both sides of the fight. The results of the inquiry have not been made public in accordance with the university’s Student Code of Conduct. In August, Director of Student Conduct Judy Johnson said that “only those who need to know will be told” the results.