There Are Things We Can Do

September 15, 2001

Elizabeth Wotawa and Julia Scirrotto, <i>Hullabaloo</i> news co-editor and staff writer
Phone: (504) 865-5210

"We can learn to focus on our families, our friends and our communities, for in the end these are the only things that matter," President Cowen said to the faculty, staff and students at Tuesday's interfaith gathering in the Kendall Cram Room of the University Center following the morning terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and near Pittsburgh, Penn.

"But there are things we can do today," Cowen said during his speech. Since Tuesday, members of the Tulane community have donated everything from their blood to their time to contribute to the nation's relief efforts. Andrea Demsic, an international student from the University of Jena in Germany, said she was shocked as the events unfolded Tuesday afternoon.

"I emailed my friends and parents and they already knew because they were also watching on TV," Demsic said. "They stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch President Bush's address." Demsic continued, "I'm really afraid but you never know what these criminals are going to do next."

The University decided to cancel all Tuesday classes as the situation escalated throughout the morning. "In light of this tragedy, classes have been suspended immediately," President Cowen said in an email to the Tulane community.

French professor Dr. Elizabeth Poe told her French 481 class Wednesday morning, "September 11, 2001 is the day your generation, well, all of us, will remember. For my generation it was the assassination of JFK. It's a kind of denial in my case ... a numbness."

Poe offered an alternate writing assignment for those students who were unable to think of anything else: "If you were the University President, would you have canceled classes Tuesday, and why?" Associate Dean of Students Dan Nadler said he was very pleased with and proud of the University's efforts and the response of the student body.

"Tulane staff are doing an incredible job of reaching out to the student body by conducting floor meetings in the residence halls, offering counseling services and planning and participating in a Campus Interfaith Service."

Nadler also commended the large number of students participating in the CACTUS Blood Drive. Freshmen Sarah Bumby of Newcomb College and Jared Harrell of the School of Engineering were two such students. "It's uncomfortable but it can save someone's life," Bumby said. "It was time for me to give blood again," Harrell said.
Because of the number of volunteers willing to give blood, the Blood Drive extended its hours of operation from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Monday. "The level of student participation ... has been absolutely incredible."

He also said students will be meeting in the very near future to discuss and plan additional initiatives. At a mandatory meeting for all Housing and Residence Life staff held Tuesday at noon, Denise Taylor, Vice President for HRL, told Resident Advisors they were "going to have to reach deep down to find the emotions" to respond to the tragedy and carry out their responsibilities as student leaders.

"It is completely and utterly appropriate to have strong feelings and reactions because of this." Taylor said: "It's okay to be scared, it's okay to be angry, it's okay to wonder what's going on."

The University has also sponsored a number of related events to help the community come together for mutual support, including last night's candlelight vigil in which members from various student organizations came together to mourn victims of the attack. Accapella group THEM sang the "Star Spangled Banner" and Green Envy sang "America the Beautiful" at the culmination of the event. The two choral groups also came together to sing "Lean on Me." Events continue tomorrow, with all classes suspended after noon to allow students to participate in the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.

"I invite staff, students and faculty to pray for our country by attending one of two interfaith memorial services at noon tomorrow," President Cowen said in an email sent out to the Tulane community Thursday afternoon. These services will take place in the Kendall Cram room of the University Center and the Tulane Medical School auditorium. Tulane will also present an open forum on Tuesday's terrorist attacks, "Making Sense of the Senseless," from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Kendall Cram room.

Cowen said the forum "will, hopefully, be the start of a deeper understanding of what has transpired in the last few days. I also believe it will be a cathartic opportunity to discuss how America is forever changed."

Emily Lampman, contributing writer, and Megan Smith, news co-editor, contributed to this report

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000