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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “After 5 years, terror still hits home”

    Then-President Peter Likins had just gotten out of the shower on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when his wife called him into the other room, where he stood transfixed as the second of two planes collided with the World Trade Center.

    “”I thought, ‘I’ve got to get to campus,'”” Likins said.

    The former president rushed to the UA and met with his leadership committee, coming up with a plan for how to deal with the emerging national crisis and how it would affect Muslim and Arab students.

    “”It was keeping peace on campus, not peace on earth, that was our concern,”” Likins said.

    The UA community banded together that day and did not fall apart, as Likins feared it might, but even five years later, the events of 9/11 continue to reverberate across campus.

    “”It’s still fresh in my mind, even though everything’s gone kind of back to normal, it still feels like it just happened,”” said Mark Mellum, an economics junior.

    Like Mellum, students said it was surprising that it has been five years since the attacks.

    Mellum said although his day-to-day life is the same as it always was, he is very aware of what happened five years ago and what continues to happen now.

    Molly Mayer, a family studies junior, said even though she doesn’t dwell on the events of 9/11 anymore, she remembers fondly how Americans reacted in the wake of the disaster.

    “”You know, everyone was really unified and people very openly cared about each other and made a very strong effort to do so,”” Mayer said. “”Five years down the line, it’s still there, but it’s not so prevalent anymore.””

    Nourhan Mustafa, a molecular and cellular biology freshman, said while most people don’t have the same immediate sense of sadness from Sept. 11, the fallen towers have instilled a fear into American life that wasn’t there before.

    “”People are just afraid that any second someone could attack,”” Mustafa said.

    Three thousand miles away from New York, the campus community came together to mourn the attacks that day, and leaders emphasized the university would remain a safe and tolerant campus.

    Hate on campus

    Likins said his worst fear that day was that someone would cower at home instead of coming to class – not out of fear of terrorism, but out of fear of being the victim of a hate crime.

    Many students went to Likins’ office and voiced their fears that they would be targeted because of their religion or their race in retribution for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    “”It seemed to us then, that morning, that this was a fundamentally religious conflict,”” Likins said.

    Likins said he was worried students at the UA would mistake the actions of a few violent individuals as indicators of the nature of the entire Islamic faith.

    Alaa Ali, a graduate student in meteorology and a Muslim, said he was shocked by the attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City, because he feels Muslims are called to love all people.

    Likins asked various religious leaders on campus to take place in a secular service on the UA Mall, where the entire campus community was given a chance to grieve.

    Likins said he made it clear through posters in residence halls that discrimination, threats or crimes directed at Muslim or Arab students would not be tolerated.

    Five years after the attacks, hate crimes are not a prevalent problem on campus, according to University of Arizona Police Department officials.

    UAPD officer Andrew Valenzuela said he was unaware of any such hate crimes being reported during this semester or last.

    Valenzuela said although hate crimes for any reason remain a concern, UAPD does not devote any officers specifically to them. Officers are told to handle any crime on campus with the same level of seriousness.

    “”The overall safety of the community we serve is paramount,”” Valenzuela said.

    Mustafa, who is Muslim, said she feels safe on campus because the diversity at the UA makes her feel comfortable enough to be who she is.

    “”There’s no stereotypical UA student. There are so many different types of people,”” Mustafa said.

    Sept. 11 today: long lines, open eyes

    The way Americans travel has changed dramatically in the past five years, including security restrictions enacted this summer that forbid passengers from taking any liquids with them onto a plane.

    Richard Martin, a computer science graduate student from India who has lived in the U.S. since last fall, said the U.S. security measures have taken hold all over the globe.

    Charlie Odhner, an accounting senior from Philadelphia, said he is not scared to travel now, even though his proximity to the attacks may have made him feel differently about the attacks than people who live farther away.

    Even aside from long lines at the airport, it may be hard for Americans to avoid talk about Sept. 11.

    Mustafa said she feels the events of that day are forever emblazoned in U.S. policy, so the date will be present in public discourse for some time to come.

    “”What happened there was atrocious, and what’s happening now in the world is after Sept. 11 and because of Sept. 11,”” Mustafa said.

    More than just U.S. policy, though, 9/11 may have made UA students more aware of events in the entire world, particularly the Middle East.

    “”It’s opened a lot of people’s eyes to things in the Middle East that they’ve never realized. … It seems like people are more open to dialogue,”” Mustafa said.

    Adam Gendreau, a veterinary science freshman, said that change in worldview may be the most lasting effect of the terrorist strikes.

    “”I’ve been looking more at what’s been going on in the world,”” Gendreau said. “”But I don’t think it really changed much in how people go about their days.””

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