September 12, 2001

Cornell Helps Students Through Tough Times

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The Cornell University administration and campus support personnel responded quickly to the terrorist attacks that occurred in New York City and Washington, D.C. yesterday.

Shortly after the attacks, which led to an unknown number of casualties, President Hunter R. Rawlings III sent an e-mail to the Cornell community.

In the e-mail, Rawlings expressed the administration’s disbelief of the day’s events.

“We are shocked at the tragedy that has befallen our nation today,” Rawlings said. “We do not know as yet the full extent of the loss of life that has occurred, but our hearts and prayers go out to all who have been affected.”

Rawlings asked faculty members to help their students deal with the tragedies.

“The University wants to help all of its members cope with this set of tragedies. To that end, we ask faculty members to assist their students in responding to these tragedies, which may affect many of our students directly,” he said.

Rawlings allowed each faculty member to decide individually whether or not to hold classes. He said, however, that if they did hold class, they should be sensitive to students’ reactions to the attacks.

A variety of support services were available to students as they began to cope with the crisis.

Members of the University’s student and academic staff provided aid in Noyes Center, Willard Straight Hall’s Memorial Room, Anabel Taylor Hall Chapel, Bartels Field House, Robert Purcell Community Center and Community Commons Community Center.

Professional staff were also located in every residence hall, each college advising office and Gannett: Cornell University Health Services to provide assistance.

The health services building extended its hours until 11 p.m. last night, and held small, confidential group discussions during the day as people came in.

Sharon Dittman, associate director for community relations at Gannett, said the crisis affects people in different ways. They may be suffering a personal loss, helping a friend or remembering times in their own personal history when they visited the World Trade Center.

“You’ve got so many layers of possible crisis for people, and we’re trying to anticipate as much as we can and be there as much as possible,” Dittman said.

Gannett offers individual and group counseling. Its Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) division provides support during the day. Students may contact CAPS at 255-5208. Moreover, Dittman added, “We have somebody available by phone 24 hours a day,” at 255-5155.

Members of the Cornell United Religious Work (CURW) are also available for assistance. Members of CAPS and CURW join student service personnel to form a Community Support Team in times of crisis, reaching people in all communities on campus, Dittman said.

Residence hall staff and the student-staffed Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service (EARS) are also available for support.

Coping with the tragedy will be an ongoing challenge for members of the Cornell community, as well as for support personnel. According to Dittman, “We have done crisis planning before, but I don’t know if anyone’s planned for this kind of crisis.”

She added, however, that Gannett professionals know the strategies that can help people cope with the tragedy. “We know how to help you live through this,” she said.

Additional services throughout the week include community support meetings Wednesday through Friday at 2 p.m. in the International Lounge of Willard Straight Hall.

Contact information for various services, as provided in a University alert yesterday, follows.

Counseling and Psychological Services – 255-5155 – Gannett -East Avenue

Gannet: University Health Services – 255-5155 Gannett – East Avenue

International Students and Scholars Office – 255-5243 – B50 Caldwell Hall

Office of Minority Educational Affairs – 255-3841 – 100 Barnes Hall

Cornell United Religious Work – 255-4214 – 118 Anabel Taylor Hall

Empathy, Assistance & Referral (EARS) – 255-3277 – Willard Straight Hall

Campus Life Management Office – 255-5511 – 2336 South Balch Hall

Dean of Students – 255-1115 – 401 Willard Straight Hall

Cornell Police – 255-1111 – Barton Hall

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – 255-1531

Archived article by Heather Schroeder