A Nation -- And The Campus -- Mourn
Date: Sept. 21, 2001
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos by Lisa Ventre
Archive: General News
In a week that reached into every corner of American life like none other in recent history, the UC community joined the nation in shock, sadness and a search for understanding.
The terror attacks upon the United States on Sept. 11 impacted life at UC in both practical and profoundly personal ways.
Events were canceled. Friends and feelings of security were lost. The entire university mourned and looked for ways to contribute in dealing with a tragedy that defied reason.
We prayed as a nation for those whose lives were lost. Reported among them was UC alumna Catherine Salter, 37, who was working at the World Trade Center.
Our leaders searched for words of comfort.
In a statement the day after the attack, UC President Joseph A. Steger said, "We understand that our community extends far beyond the campus boundaries and that yesterday's horrors, although seemingly distant, affect us here. Throughout the university community, people will be affected in different ways, and I ask you to respond with compassion and consideration for their needs."
An all-university remembrance ceremony for the victims was scheduled for Sept. 20 on the CCM plaza.
The university also put out reminder notices about a 1991 policy that addresses the handling of students who are called up to active military duty. Upon receipt of orders to report, those students should contact their college office to begin the withdrawal process. They will receive a 100 percent refund of instructional fees, general fees and any non-resident surcharge.
Experts from across UC contributed to the public's search locally and nationally for knowledge about the events and circumstances surrounding them. Terrorism experts Ed Bridgeman from Clermont College's criminal justice program, political science's Abraham Miller and UC police chief Gene Ferrara were in high demand.
A neighbor, alarmed by the presence of news trucks from three Cincinnati stations, came over to make sure Bridgeman was okay the night of the attacks. In the first seven days after the attacks, Bridgeman did 57 media interviews, with organizations as disparate as the Toyko Shinbon newspaper to ABC radio news to "The Art Bell Show."
"Terrorism will not go away. Understand that it is far too cost-effective and that it is not a level playing field because they pick the time and site, and we can't protect everything all the time," said Bridgeman, who anticipates a new vigilance to emerge. "In that respect, terrorism will always be popular with the underdog groups, but I think we can cut greatly into their ability to organize and stage-manage these complex, multi-site type events."
Nothing felt normal in the remainder of the week of the attack.
The university continued the necessary work of gearing up for this week's beginning of fall quarter, but most extracurricular events were called off. All athletic matches through the weekend, including the home football game with Louisiana-Monroe, were postponed. The football game was rescheduled for Dec. 1.
Convocation welcoming UC's new students still took place on Sept. 15 in the Shoemaker Center. The Bearcat Marching Band played a medley of patriotic songs, Taps was played by a lone bugler to an audience of bowed heads, and the comments of all speakers were colored by the week's events.
"This week, when the World Trade Center towers came down at the hands of terrorists, the Statue of Liberty stood up with all Americans for the cause of freedom," said Mitchel Livingston, vice president for Student Affairs and Human Resources. He added that this was the day that the students needed to begin preparing themselves to stand up for freedom.
UC's international education programs were thrown off-stride by travel difficulties experienced after the airlines were grounded. International co-op students in Germany were delayed in their attempts to return home. A group of 44 French college students who were coming to the College of Business Administration (CBA) for a study program made it as far as Chicago, but then had to find new arrangements in traveling to Cincinnati.
International students studying at UC joined with those around them in expressing sorrow and shock.
"It was very strange. I didn't believe it at all when I first heard about it through an instant e-mail discussion I was having with a friend from Austria," said Stefen Braunias, an Austrian student in the MBA program at CBA. He and fellow students from India, France and Romania joined about 100 other people from the college in a memorial ceremony on the front lawn of Lindner Hall on Sept. 14. Similar small ceremonies took place across campus throughout the aftermath.
"I'm from New York, and I feel helpless this far from home," said MBA student Amy Dalal. "It helps to be able to talk about it."
"I was amazed about how America reacted," added MBA student Cristin Cosma of Romania. "Although you've had no experience with this, things remained very rational. I appreciated the way the mayor of New York handled everything there."
On the other side of campus, two professors from the UC College of Law had expected to be in the World Trade Center three days after the attack. Jack Chin and Donna Nagy were to represent UC at a recruiting event. "I don't feel victimized, but sad. As someone who has spent a lot of time in New York, I'd say this was an area that people felt about like Cincinnatians feel about Fountain Square," said Chin, who was also working at a law firm in 1993 four blocks away from the World Trade Center when terrorists first attacked the complex.
John Brolley, coordinator of the University of Cincinnati's degree and certificate program with a focus in religious studies, says no one in the religious community appears to consider the attacks an act that was motivated by religion. "Even if the perpetrators felt they had a divine mandate, people of all religions - at least those with whom I've spoken - are not attributing this attack to a religious motivation, but instead feel it's political or economic terrorism."
Brolley adds the first reaction from his northern Kentucky community, as well as from much of the nation, was for people to turn to religious centers in their communities, and local churches were opening their doors, providing 24-hour access.