October 16, 2001

Teach-In Reinvigorates Sept. 11th Discourse

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Five weeks ago, anxious students gathered around television sets in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall, gripped by the images of dust and rubble in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh, Penn.

Yesterday, many casually wandered through the room between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to informally discuss the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with professors and fellow students at an all-day teach-in.

The format for yesterday’s teach-in was less structured than last month’s presentation in Kennedy Hall, where faculty panelists gave brief speeches and answered students’ questions from the audience. Instead, students wandered between six tables, asking questions and engaging professors in conversation. Each faculty member addressed a different topic related to the attacks and the U.S. response.

Groups ranging from two to 15 people formed around the tables, as students stopped to listen, comment and question before moving on to another discussion.

The topics included International Economic Implications; Buildings, Urban Disasters and the Cultural Meaning of Architecture; Islamic History, Culture and Religion; America and the World; The Crisis in America; and The Media and the Crisis.

Prof. Terry Turner, anthropology, led the discussion on America and the World from 2-4 p.m. As students questioned American policy in the Middle East, the discussion turned to America’s economic interests.

“Why can’t we not be involved [in the Middle East]?” asked Niharika Samtani ’04.

“The answer to which we’ve basically arrived is oil,” Turner replied. He had explained earlier in the conversation that “the Islamic countries are the major oil sources of the world