Chancellor’s message for gathering 9/11/01
Ladies and Gentlemen – Students, Faculty, and Staff – We gather today as a family to share our grief – our horror – our disbelief – at today’s events. That is what families do – that is what this family does.
Syracuse University is not a stranger to tragedies like these – I, too, have experienced violence and evil in my life.
Yet we never lose our capacity to feel the profound shock that comes when evil presents itself so vividly in our midst.
There is no rational explanation for today’s tragedies – No answers for the questions Who? How? Why?
Right now all we know is that this is a dangerous world – Something that people whose countries are torn by strife know all too well – Today that lesson came home, writ large.
1. We also know – and this is the most important thing – that we must come together to nurture each other.
First we must attend to those whose personal lives are deeply affected – who may still not know about their loved ones.
We must also support each other, even if we have no personal connection to the tragedies still unfolding – This is a time of confusion and fear for all of us – We all need a friendly hand – a reassurance.
- We know we must uphold the highest levels of civility – We do not know who was responsible for the assaults that took place today – We may not know the full story for weeks and months – But we do know that this is not the time to accuse or to blame – and certainly not a time to take hurtful action. This is a time to use the energy of our emotions in positive, supportive ways.
- We know that one of the best ways to deal with stress is to attend to our daily lives as best we can – That is why I have asked that classes be held at their regular times – Naturally, we must remain flexible and supportive of each other – There may be faculty, students, and staff among us who have urgent need to tend to personal business in light of today’s events – For the rest of us, classes provide an opportunity to be together to discuss the day’s many tragedies and to begin the process of gaining perspective.
- We know we need to talk with others about our fears – This is an important part of dealing with the unthinkable – Let me share what I’m feeling in the hope that you will do likewise:
- I am angered, confused, and deeply saddened that there are people in the world who would do such things.
- I am afraid that none of us are really safe – that there is so much about our lives we can’t control.
- I fear for my safety, my family’s safety, and for all of us in this world.
- I am afraid that someone in the University community will take out his or her feelings on others.
- I worry that we haven’t done all we can to help others in time of need.
- I fear that our open democracy won’t be able to deal with this challenge in ways that are both protective of our people and respectful of our basic freedoms.
I must deal with my fears – You must deal with yours, too – and we will by talking freely and openly with each other.
But we cannot afford to be frozen by our fears – We must move forward.
The University is fortunate in having a large staff of counselors and other support people who mobilized today as soon as the news began unfolding – I urge you to make use of these fine people whenever there is a need.
I have every confidence in our ability to care for each other – This is a fine, strong community of the best people – Let us show each other our strength.
We are all eager for news – Kevin Morrow of our University Communications Office will speak next.