Bowdoin students reach out to victims
In the week following terrorist attacks in New York and
Washington, the entire Bowdoin community offered assistance to those who
were personally affected by the attacks, and created a supportive environment
to help the entire campus cope with the tragedy.
Immediately following the event, some professors decided
that they felt uncomfortable holding class. "I decided that I didn't
want to have class that day," said Professor of Russian Jane Knox-Voina.
"I thought it would be better for my students to be with who they
She recalled, "I remembered how I felt the day JFK
was shot, all of the sadness and confusion, and I thought 'How do you
remove the pain?' I think students are feeling that same shift in identity
that I felt."
Other professors used class as an opportunity to inform
themselves and their students of the developing situation.
Professor of Sociology Susan Bell was originally scheduled to have a class early Tuesday morning; however, she decided to relocate her class to Russwurm House when she heard of the news, where they were able to watch the unfolding events on television.
"What people needed was information, and I couldn't
provide it myself. I originally planned to bring a radio into class, but
then I decided that students didn't want to listen to the radio, they
wanted to see it live," she explained.
Upon hearing of the attacks, the Residential Life staff
had an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning to figure out how to best
handle the situation. The staff created a list of those students who lived
within the New York City and Washington areas, and spent the day working
with the deans to contact each student and to offer support to those who
may have been immediately affected by the tragedy. Alumni Relations also
created a similar list of alums to determine their safety.
Sarah Manz '03, Head Proctor in Winthrop said, "One
of my first priorities became checking in with each of my residents. I
tried to find and speak with everyone in my proctor group and building
and assure that they knew where to find TVs, where to find counseling,
where people were gathering, and where to turn for support." She
also expressed concern for first years who "are living away from
home for the first time and dealing with such a major tragedy."
"I'm only one person on staff, and between the 54 student
staff members, there were 54 different approaches, priorities, and experiences,"
stated Manz. "It struck me that throughout this past week, nobody
was afraid to step up, and everyone took responsibility for the people
they cared about. Because of that responsibility, there were no cracks
for people to slip through."
"Keeping myself together and grasping the magnitude
and implications of the events as they unfolded was extremely challenging
at times. Knowing that throughout the campus there were so many people
reaching out and coming together brought me both strength and comfort,"
On the afternoon of the attacks, campus forums were organized
as places where students and faculty could come together and share their
feelings to support each other. Vigils were also held to honor those who
were feared dead or missing in the attacks.
The College has also been active in implementing relief
programs, including a blood drive sponsored by the American Red Cross.
In one day, over 350 students and staff members signed up to donate their
blood, and on Wednesday the Blood Drive shut down early after being overwhelmed
In addition, the College invited religious leaders of various
faiths to be available for students and faculty, both in the Brunswick
area and in Portland.
"It was amazing," said Coordinator of Student
Community Service Programs Lydia Bell. "Boxes of granola, dozens
of bottles of water and Gatorade, flashlights, T-shirts, leather gloves,
batteries, and nail brushes were all donated by the Bowdoin community.
The minute the attacks happened, everyone mobilized to provide counseling
and religious services to the community, to help everyone cope,"
On Thursday night, students met with faculty members from
the Departments of Government, Religion, History, and Anthropology in
Pickard Theater, in an attempt to provide a political, religious, and
social context for understanding the tragic events.
The efforts are paying off. "I am especially thankful
for how fortunate this community has been as a whole and for the effort
each individual has put into taking care of those nearest them here,"
For more information on ways to volunteer, go to www.bowdoin.edu/news/.