The University Record, September 17, 2001

University responds to national tragedy

By Theresa Maddix

The Sept. 11 vigil. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
In a time of national tragedy that has brought grief to all corners of the community, the University has displayed unity, solidarity and strength. Almost immediately after the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York, faculty, staff and students sprang into action to provide relief for survivors, friends and family.

The Health System encouraged the donation of blood. Students held bucket drives to raise money for the Red Cross. The U-M Trauma Burn Center sent skin to Washington, D.C.

President Lee C. Bollinger issued a statement Sept. 11 saying, “Although we wish it were not so, many members of our community will be seriously and personally affected by this loss. I ask that we draw together today to sustain our community in every way possible. I encourage faculty and staff to reach out to students in their classes this week and throughout our campus, using class time to discuss and reflect. I ask that faculty dedicate tomorrow’s classes to that end.”

Bollinger’s e-mail message to all students, faculty, and staff was followed by a joint statement of Lisa A. Tedesco, interim provost, and vice president and secretary of the University, and E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs: “We are deeply proud of our diverse, multicultural community. Regardless of ethnic or national origin, we stand together in our grief and concern. We are committed to the safety and security of every member of this community and reaffirm our enduring respect for all who are a part of the University of Michigan family.”

Symbols of solidarity and patriotism abound. Bus drivers are wearing red-white-and blue armbands and ribbons on their lapels. Some University members are wearing black for mourning and others are wearing white, a symbol of mourning, too, as well as of the continuity of life and rebirth.

Residence halls, such as Martha Cook, unfurled their U.S. flags and are supporting residents with soothing music, providing sitting areas for students to talk and serving hot tea.

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) posted a Universitywide message offering help for “individuals with more intense emotional responses and/or a direct connection to the events.”

Wired individuals needing to express themselves watched the Web and e-mail, some responding immediately and others quickly joining Web discussion groups—listservs, including http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sept11info, to share information, opinions and feelings.

On the academic front, classes were cancelled Sept. 11 and many instructors used Sept. 12 to reflect on the terrible events and on what can be done to help.

A unified community stood together in sorrow and support at a vigil 9 p.m. Sept. 11, overflowing the Diag.

Many units and organizations chose to cancel or postpone events. The U-M football game vs. Western Michigan University was postponed.

“Michigan Stadium will remain dark this Saturday as we pay tribute to all those who are missing and lost in this week’s tragic events,” said Bollinger.

The University Musical Society posted signs saying, “Performances of Shockheaded Peter have been cancelled due to the tragic events in New York City and Washington, D.C.” The Law School reunion and the President’s Fun Run also were cancelled.

Other sponsors decided to go ahead with events, including the Academic Freedom Lecture. Lecture Chair Peggie Hollingsworth, former chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA), explained, “I personally hope we won’t let these people reschedule our lives. We cannot carry on as usual, but we can remember that terrorism in any form cannot be tolerated.”

The School of Music held an all school convocation Sept. 14 “to commemorate the tragedies.”

The Department of Public Safety has responded quickly to safety concerns on campus, including a bomb threat Sept. 11 to the LS&A building. Police officers at S.A.F.E.Walk have reported an increase in calls.

Web managers and University communicators have worked continually to keep the Gateway page, www.umich.edu, up to date with developments and information.