By ryan September 12, 2001
Thousands of members of the Cornell community gathered in solidarity on the Arts Quad yesterday evening in response to a series of terrorist attacks that horrified the nation and left New York City and Washington, D.C. in chaos. Yesterday afternoon, the administration announced in an e-mail to the Cornell community that it would hold a gathering on the Arts Quad “to mourn the loss of life and injuries that have occurred in [yesterday’s] tragedies and to provide each other with mutual support.” At the candlelight vigil, President Hunter R. Rawlings III addressed students, faculty and Ithaca residents from atop Olin Library, with the Cornell Chorus and Glee Club seated behind him. “We join here on the Arts Quad to express not only our sorrow this evening, but also our conviction that our community, and other communities throughout the world, will withstand these assaults on humanity and decency,” Rawlings said. Rawlings implored those individuals who were deeply affected by the attacks to seek help. “Let me offer you an admonition,” he said. “Many people after such a series of tragedies have a delayed response. They believe they are coping with the situation well, but are, in fact, traumatized by the sheer magnitude of the event. No matter how you think you are doing, be sure to talk to others about your feelings.” Rawlings commended members of the Cornell community for the aid they have already extended to the victims of the attacks. Physicians at Cornell’s Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College in New York City have been helping injured individuals since yesterday morning, while medical students donated blood. He added that many students in Ithaca have expressed a desire to donate blood to help victims as well. “We are working now with our local Red Cross chapter to assist them with their effort [to obtain blood]. We will provide everyone with further information as soon as it is available,” he said. Rawlings advised the gatherers to continue to make themselves available to those affected by the attacks. “In the next few days, we hope that you will continue to offer help, tolerance and assistance to those in need,” he said. Although the community is shocked by yesterday’s events, Rawlings said that the University will remain open. “We will continue to keep Cornell University open and pursue work as an academic community,” he said, recognizing that “our lives and thoughts are different than they were [yesterday] morning.” Rawlings also advised against blaming certain individuals for this tragedy. “[We should make] no premature judgments about the perpetrators of these acts. Members of the Cornell community are not responsible for the actions of others,” he said. Rawlings said that he hopes Cornell will remain a “tolerant and humane campus.” Ken Clark, director of the Cornell United Religious Work, also addressed the mass of mourners. “Words fail us at a time such as this,” he said. “In our minds and hearts we experience shock, confusion, disbelief and fear that we cannot express.” Clark deemed yesterday’s events “a collective tragedy.” “We mourn for those who died, for those who had nothing to do with the causes and issues related to these horrible, horrible events. We mourn with their families and friends,” he said. “Our prayers and our hearts go out to those who survived the tragedy,” Clark added. He called the attacks an event that will allow the community to “recognize our common humanity.” Clark asked the gatherers to join him in a non-religious prayer, afterwhich the group shared a moment of silence for “all who have been affected.” The Cornell Chorus and Glee Club performed several songs, and led the crowd in a somber rendition of “O, Beautiful for Spacious Skies.” Students at the gathering expressed shock at yesterday’s terrorist attacks. “I think we don’t know what to think,” said Kimberly Greziano ’04. Maura Kennedy ’04 agreed with her friend, noting that “the main reaction is shock that this would happen in our country.” Other students thought that the entire situation seemed surreal. “It looked like a movie,” said Danny Lee ’03. The tragedy hit close to home for many students, especially New York City residents. One Stuyvesant High School alumnus watched his alma mater being evacuated on the news. For some students, yesterday was an excruciating time of wondering whether loved ones were injured in the attacks. “The day was extremely difficult,” said Seth Harris ’03, whose mother had traveled from Albany to New York City to attend a business meeting in the World Trade Center. Harris did not know if his mother had survived the attacks until late yesterday evening. “[Yesterday] tested my strength. There were many times I wanted to break down into tears but I couldn’t because my mom wouldn’t want that,” said Harris, a Sun staff writer. “I thought positive thoughts and hoped for the best. Now I’m just praying for others.” Josh Roth ’03 was also unaware of his father’s whereabouts. “I just saw my father’s building collapse a few hours ago,” said Roth, whose father worked in 7 World Trade Center, which collapsed several hours later. He later learned that his father had escaped unharmed. “My aunt and uncle were supposed to go to work at the Trade Center today … but they didn’t go because my grandma was sick,” said Paul Liu ’04. Other students were unaware of loved ones’ whereabouts due to the FAA’s decision to suspend all air travel until this afternoon. “My dad is flying in from India and I have no idea where he is,” said Kathir Palanisamy ’03. Students from outside the United States were also affected by the terrorist attacks. “It’s a horrible act. I’m shocked,” said Ammar Olabi grad, who is from Lebanon. Although surprised by yesterday’s events, Olabi did not think that people in his homeland would have much of a reaction to the attacks. Yesterday’s gathering was planned after current and former members of the Student Assembly approached the administration about holding a gathering to address yesterday’s events, according to Uzo Asonye ’02, president of the Student Assembly. “Students urged the president and vice president to hold a rally. We felt it was necessary for the community to show unity and address the incident. The Cornell community responded, which is a great thing,” Asonye said. After the vigil, students lingered on the Arts Quad, sharing their reactions, offering support and praying with one another. Heather Schroeder contributed to this article.Archived article by Stephanie Hankin
By ryan September 12, 2001
Emotionally stirred and shocked, students, staff and faculty responded with individual reactions and stories that tied them to one another and to family and friends across the world. While some applauded the University for reacting quickly and setting up TVs across campus, others were surprised that classes were continuing to be held. “It’s makes you wonder what has to happen in order for classes to be canceled?” said Solange Rodriguez ’04, who is from Manhattan. Doug Perry, Cornell Law ’88, was back on campus yesterday conducting interviews for a Washington law firm. “It’s kind of surreal when you are interviewing students,” Perry said. “They were affected, but they were very professional. It’s also frustrating when you don’t know who the enemy is. This will have a long term impact on us and Cornellians who will be the leaders of tomorrow — this is the world you’re going to be living in.” Students noted the iconic value of the buildings attacked. “As Americans, I think we have a false sense of security,” said Maren Nyer ’03. “It makes you really see how fragile human life is and, on the grander scheme, the human condition.” Locally, the University put forth great efforts to make resources available to students. “There were TVs in Willard Straight Hall and a pull down screen in Baker to let people know what was going on,” said Gerren Faustini ’04. “I don’t think a lot of people were shaken up until later when it hit them — they’re weren’t really fazed by it until later in the day.” “It didn’t feel real to me until noon when I was in Trillium and I saw that students were crowding around a radio there,” said Karin Chang ’02. Although many students tried desperately to get in touch with friends and family in New York City, phone service was limited at best. “It’s been really hard to get in touch with my family,” Rodriguez said. “It’s scary not being able to doing anything and just watching this.” Dorm residents also quickly received messages from campus officials and individual Resident Advisors during the course of the day. “Overall the atmosphere has been pretty calm — there was a quick turnaround to the day’s events and there are a lot of resources available to students who may have been directly or indirectly affected,” said Adrienne Cole, Residence Hall Director in Cascadilla Hall. “The staff has been getting involved in discussions in the lounge and by checking in with residents door to door.” Dan Lewis ’03, who served in the army for five years, said that in the event of a war, the United Stated would first turn to its reserve and National Guard units. “Any fear as the draft goes, that’s an invalid fear — to institute that would be a traumatic and dire measure,” he said. “Terrorism is becoming the new face of war. Very responsible people with the department of the army are treating this like prepping for war and it’s an appropriate measure — this is an attack on a sovereign nation.” With much conjecture about who is to be held responsible, student groups also voiced their opinions. “People are looking to place blame,” said Tareq Arqne, a grad student and member of the Arab Club. “This was a radical and violent act that is not representative of any group or people. You hear of people who are celebrating, but no one is justified in celebration, I don’t think anyone can be happy.” In a statement to The Sun, the Arab Club and the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association of Cornell University (MECCA) wrote: “We condemn in the strongest terms possible the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. … Contrary to common stereotypes, Islam demands tolerance, kindness, and respect of all people. We further call on all people, especially media professionals, to exercise restraint and not draw premature conclusions as to who was responsible for the attacks.” “I think that it is a terrible tragedy and I think it’s very easy to point fingers and we all want to find out who did this, but it may be some time before we know,” said Prof. Kim Haines-Eitzen, Near Eastern Studies. “We need to be patient in the process and not jump to conclusions about who’s responsible.” While some students were not directly affected, they felt the day’s events weighed heavy on everyone’s mind. “I was blessed not to have any personal connection,” said Haitham Khouri ’02. “But like many other students, I know a friend of a friend or a father of a friend who was directly affected.