College Students Turn to Vigils, Teach-Ins, CNN

By Wiltenburg, Mary | The Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2001 | Go to article overview

College Students Turn to Vigils, Teach-Ins, CNN


Wiltenburg, Mary, The Christian Science Monitor


To students at Boston University, services and vigils at the school's Marsh Chapel have been as natural a place as any to be this past week.

Senior Susan Harrington says a lot of students who don't consider themselves religious have attended the events "almost instinctively." Ms. Harrington went herself on Friday night with fellow athletes. "There's been a real sense of solidarity about all this," she says.

The interdenominational Protestant worship led by the Rev. Hope Luckie last Sunday was just one of numerous commemorations -for students and community members of all faiths - that have been held in and outside the chapel since Tuesday. Many have signed a wall of remembrance there for the victims of last week's attacks; the statue out front is littered with candles.

But a number of students also talk about having to make sense of last week's events more or less alone. Adam Ratner, a first-year graduate student in international relations who focuses on US foreign policy, says his professors didn't really addressed the week's events in class. "They just kind of glossed over it," he says. "My guess is they were afraid to jump to any conclusions."

Mr. Ratner says there was panic on campus last Tuesday as students flocked to phones trying to call family and friends. By the weekend, though, campus routines had resumed. "At the same time," he says, "there's a presence. You know things in the rest of the world aren't the same."

The university is not the same either. "We cry out of our depths in the words that Paul used: 'What then are we to say about these things?' " Rev. Luckie said in her sermon.

Not only are many students coping with personal losses and fears, Luckie said, but "our Islamic students are afraid. They are in hiding."

"I have news," she preached to a damp-eyed congregation, "The Islamic community is not our enemy. They should not be persecuted because we are afraid."

* * *

This year's "First Look Fair" at the University of Maryland College Park campus had balloons and stalls like last year. But not everything was business as usual. Ten thousand flowers lined the edges of a central pool and fountain. A curtain of white sheets, covered with the prayers and statements of grieving students and staff, cut across the mall. Members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Pakistani Student Association, and others spent time assuring non-Muslims that Islam does not condone terrorism. …

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