Herb Ruffin, African American Studies Department Chair and associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was interviewed for the WURD-FM (Philadelphia) story about the “100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre.” Ruffin, who is an expert on Black settlements in…
American tragedy touches SU community
American tragedy touches SU communitySeptember 17, 2001Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
The terrorist attacks that occurred in New York City, Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 sent waves of shock, grief and fear across the nation. At SU, administrators worked quickly to put measures in place to help students-many of whom hail from the New York and Washington, D.C. areas-deal with the news.
As word of the attacks spread around campus, students gathered around television sets in the Schine Student Center, Eggers Hall Commons, Newhouse’s Food.com snack bar, and other sites on campus to get the latest news.
Mary Jo Custer, director of student affairs and associate to the senior vice president, and Judy O’Rourke, administrator in the Office of Undergraduate Studies, have led the campus’ response to the crisis. Upon hearing of the tragedy, the two, who are both trained in critical incident stress management, contacted key people around campus to come together to determine ways to help the campus community.
Counselors and volunteers, coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Studies, were available in the Schine and Goldstein student centers and residence halls on the day of the tragedy, and continue to be available on an as-needed basis. Hendricks Chapel was open throughout the day and evening for prayer and reflection, and chaplains were available.
Rebecca S. Dayton, director of the Counseling Center, says counselors have helped approximately two dozen students so far. She believes that many people are still holding out hope that loved ones are safe, and expects that the real impact of the tragedy will be felt in the coming days.
“Right now we’ve been most busy making ourselves visible,” Dayton says. “My guess is when people don’t hear from someone, they will start to make the transition. We expect that more people will start coming in to access services in the coming days, weeks and months.”
A memo from Dayton, “Assisting Others in Response to the Current Tragedy,” was distributed to various constituencies on campus.
The following are places students, faculty and staff can call for help:
? The Counseling Center can be reached at 443-4715 during normal business hours or 443-2666 after 5 p.m.;
? The chaplains of Hendricks Chapel are available at 443-2901;
? The Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff at 443-1087; and
? The Goldberg Couple and Family Therapy Center, located in Room 008 of Slocum Hall, is open and available to aid members of the University community in dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday’s events. The center is part of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy in the College of Human Services and Health Professions. The center’s office number is 443-3023. Also, the center’s director, Anne Gosling, can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Associate Professor Linda Stone Fish can be reached at email@example.com.
At 3 p.m. on the day of the tragedy, members of the University community came together in Hendricks Chapel to hear the latest information and take comfort in words of prayer offered by the campus chaplains from all faiths and religious traditions. In addition to the campus chaplains, the speakers included the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel; Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw; Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund; and Rabbi Shelley Ezring of the Temple Society of Concord.
“We gather today as a family to share our grief, our horror and our disbelief at today’s events,” Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw told the approximately 2,000 people gathered in the chapel. “That is what families do-that is what this family does.”
“The outrage, pain and loss that many members of our community are feeling are palpable to us all, for we at Syracuse University have experienced our share of loss through the years from cowardly acts of this nature,” said Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund. “We have survived not by lashing out in hate and frustration, but by honoring and respecting the memory of those lost. We have survived by bringing intellectual energy to bear on great moral problems of the day. And we have survived by always revitalizing our commitment to principles of truth and justice in the face of evil.”
Telephones, for students to make local and long distance phone calls, were made available in the Schine Student Center and in Rooms 304 and 306 of Steele Hall.
About 500 members of the University community attended a Mass at the Alibrandi Catholic Center on the evening of the tragedy.
Approximately 2,100 students participated in meetings held in each of the campus residence halls on the evening of Sept. 11. Following floor meetings, residents broke into discussion groups led by resident advisors, faculty and staff members, said Office of Residence Life Interim Director Stephen St. Onge.
“We were telling the students, ‘We are here for you, and you need to reach out to each other,'” St. Onge said.
The Sept. 11 meetings were followed up with programming aimed at offering support, such as clay sculpting and writing exercises, as well as other activities in which students could express their feelings about the tragedy.
The Student Association (SA) sponsored a “Sheets of Expression” activity on the Quad Sept. 12 through 14. Bed sheets and markers were available so that students, faculty and staff could express their thoughts, fears and emotions. The sheets will be displayed at a place to be determined. SA also sponsored a candlelight vigil on Sept. 12 that drew about 2,000 participants. A vigil sponsored by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry drew about 350 participants.
A previously scheduled blood drive at the Maxwell School garnered an overwhelming response from members of the University community. One hundred and six people donated blood, and more than 3,000 people were directed to donate at blood drives at various locations in the community throughout the week. The University chapter of the ROTC will sponsor a blood drive on campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday (Sept. 17) in the Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium.
On Sept. 12, the Newhouse School invited students to an open forum to discuss the terrorist attacks.
“We [will be] there to talk about whatever you need and want to bring up, from personal feelings to your questions about being a journalist and communicator during extraordinary times,” said Dean David Rubin in the invitation to students.
The Center for Public and Community Service and the Student Volunteer Organization hosted a table in the Schine Student Center atrium to collect money for the United Way September 11th Fund. The fund was established by the United Way of America, located in Alexandria, Va., to help care for the victims of the attacks. Contributions may be made through the United Way of Central New York, P.O. Box 2129, Syracuse, NY, 13220. On the check, indicate that the gifts are for the September 11th Fund. The September 11th fund is separate from the annual United Way of Central New York pledge card campaign, which begins at the University this week.
In a show of solidarity across the campus, the College of Human Services and Health Professions distributed white ribbons for people to wear in support of the victims of the attacks. The South Campus Office of Residence Life sponsored “An Evening of Compassion” on Sept. 13. Large white ribbons were distributed to students for their apartment doors, and students were given an opportunity to write “words of compassion” to be displayed at the Goldstein Student Center.
“It is truly amazing to see the outpouring of caring and support being generated by students, as well as faculty and staff and community members. It is certainly important in this time of need,” Custer says.
“I am very proud of my campus colleagues who have been so supportive of students and others affected by this tragedy,” said O’Rourke. “Their generous offers of help and their willingness to be available for whatever is needed show the level of caring that characterizes Syracuse University.”
Additionally, Custer said some members of the University community have been called to the disaster areas to help.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been, and will be, impacted by this terrible tragedy,” she said.