From The Argives: September 11, 2001 at Wesleyan

“What can we do as a community in this time of crisis and uncertainty? The most important thing, perhaps, will be to learn from each other.” —President Bennet

Here’s what the Argus looked like the week of September 11, 2001—shocked, singularly focused, teeming with questions and grief. The bold header is striking and clear: “UNIVERSITY STUNNED BY ATTACKS.”

There was the candlelight vigil outside North College Tuesday night, where President Douglas Bennet ’59 spoke (“We are together as a community because we need to sustain each other in a time of loss,” he said) and Dean Mike Whaley opened up the microphone to any student who wished to speak. There was the afternoon forum on Wednesday, featuring words by Professor Khachig Tölölyan among other faculty. There were the “where I was when I heard” anecdotes, the firsthand accounts by alumni survivors, the blood drives, the faculty panel. One article sought to summarize how other colleges were adjusting their schedules—especially those with campuses in New York. At Wesleyan, classes moved forward, with extreme flexibility. “Holding classes will provide us all with an opportunity to gather in small groups,” wrote the University’s administration, “and is preferable to the alternative of our students remaining isolated.”

President Bennet wrote a Wespeak. “We have an unusual opportunity to see past stereotypes, identify and diminish our own prejudices, and experience a complex world through the sensitivities of others,” Bennet urged. “The connection between Wesleyan and the global community is direct.” He urged, more forcefully, community understanding: “What can we do as a community, in this time of crisis and uncertainty?  The most important thing, perhaps, will be to learn from each other, practicing the leadership skills our community desperately requires.” Other Wespeaks appeared in the issue—from John Driscoll ’62 (University Relations) and Professor Vera Schwarcz, then History Department Chair.

Even before Twitter and smart phones, the University’s emergency apparatus acted quickly. Within minutes of the attacks, Student Services got in touch with Wes students whose parents worked in or near the World Trade Center. Staff set up TVs and phones with free long distance calling in Davenport, the campus center. They emailed students, urging those in need to contact the Dean’s Office.

On campus on September 11, 2001? Share your memories in the comments below. Scroll on for a gallery of the September 14, 2001 issue of the Argus.

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