Campus Community Unites at Circle of Hope

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Drew University staff and students gathered virtually at an online “Circle of Hope” ceremony on Feb. 3. The event was made to encourage community strength and support for their missing peer, Nepalese International Student Ajay Sah (C’22). It featured a candle lighting ceremony, meditations and music.

At one point during the ceremony, an uninvited “zoom-bomber” hijacked the virtual event. The anonymous individual interrupted the ceremony for five minutes, sharing explicit messages and music. The actions of the zoom-bomber were seemingly unrelated to Sah’s disappearance. 

“At a time when we are already hurting, this bombardment deepened our pain,” said Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Life and Director of Student Affairs Frank Merckx, in response to the zoom-bomber. “Yet, I am grateful for the staff that responded with speed and dignity to end the assault and reclaim our space, and to others who continued to lead and restore us; this shows our resilience and resolve as a community.”

Sah, 22, was reported missing by the university on Jan. 22, 2021, according to the Madison Police Department. He was last seen by other students and friends at approximately 8 p.m. on Jan. 19, as he was leaving campus to board an NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City.

The math major and physics minor has been heavily involved at Drew until this point. He is a resident assistant, student leader and ambassador to international students, often greeting Drew’s Director of International Students, Laura Arthur, during his frequent trips to Tilghman House.

Arthur said “Ajay has been a vibrant part of our campus community since his arrival to Drew with his infectious smile and ever present enthusiasm.” 

At the Circle of Hope event, members of Student Government provided resources and advice to students for sharing Sah’s information on social media. President Kareena Salvi encouraged participants to post his flyer and tag local news anchors and channels.Salvi also promoted the GoFundMe created by Sah’s brother, Shiva Sah. 

“We are devastated and struggling to find funds to cover the cost of all legal as well as private services necessary to help find Ajay,” read the GoFundMe description written by Shiva Sah. “The fund will also be used for parents’ travel to U.S., accommodation and other expenses required by immediate family members in finding Ajay.”

During the ceremony, Merckx also expressed his gratitude for those who shared his information, and encouraged more to do so. 

“The longer Ajay remains away from us, the more questions and grief we may have,” he said. “While there are nearly 30 news media stories covering Ajay’s disappearance, it is important that we continue spreading the word on social media. Hopefully, these efforts will yield valuable information to aid in the search.”

If you know any information about Sah’s disappearance, please contact Detective Ryan Dunn of the Madison Police department, 973-593-3000.

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