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image: Campus NewsChicago pulls together in the aftermath of September 11
"Even in the moment of a great interruption," Chicago President Don M. Randel told the College's incoming first-years, "even in a moment when it seems as if the seasons could not possibly rotate as they have, it is important to remember that they will."

In Rockefeller Chapel-filled to capacity on the afternoon of Saturday, September 15, with first-years, their families, and Orientation aides-Randel addressed a group embarking upon a hopeful journey even as a cloud of hopelessness hovered over the room. Only 24 hours earlier the Chapel had overflowed with students, faculty, staff, and friends gathered to mourn the loss of life in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

The atmosphere on the quadrangles-like that of the nation-was a mingling of grief and helplessness with a sense of community and solidarity, as Hyde Parkers waited for news of alumni and friends who might be lost in the wreckage. Unable to assist directly with relief efforts in the Northeast, they gathered at prayer vigils, interfaith services, and candle lightings, and held moments of silence. President Randel and the deans of the professional schools and graduate divisions e-mailed messages of encouragement and support to University constituents. And the University of Chicago Hospitals reported a weeklong waiting list to donate blood.

About 50 College first-years missed the beginning of Orientation because of travel restrictions. The GSB canceled a series of admissions receptions from Boston to Brazil. The plane carrying alumni returning from an Alumni Association trip to Normandy was forced to land in Newfoundland, where the travelers spent several nights sleeping on church pews, tended to by local parishioners until their plane was allowed to fly back to Chicago on Saturday.

Chicago faculty were called upon to offer expertise on the attacks and their import, while the University-based National Opinion Research Center began a survey to gauge public reaction in the wake of September 11 compared with response to the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On September 12 the Alumni Association set up a Web site with a bulletin board on which alumni posted messages of the missing and the safe. On September 18 a message posted on the Graduate School of Business's alumni Web site, noted that well over 500 alumni had reported their safety, but added, "We are still gathering information about those who are missing. Because our information is incomplete and unconfirmed, we are not posting a list of missing members of the GSB community at this time." The Magazine, which went to press on September 19, will publish a further report in its December/01 issue; in the interim, updated material will appear on the Alumni Association Web site.

Meanwhile members of the University community continue to reach out to each other. In its first week the Alumni Association's support Web site had some 1,000 visitors and its message board more than 100 posts, including notes from some alumni looking for fellow graduates in New York and Washington and others recalling their own experiences the morning of the events. One message from a New York alumnus simply contained a subject line: "We're okay." To read the accumulating notes is to painfully relive the events, but also to be part of a community that pulls one through these things, to know that the seasons change, and though the cold has come upon us so suddenly, that spring will eventually follow. - C.S.


  OCTOBER 2001

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