Mourning U cancels classes, will resume today

Josh Linehan

No comparisons are proper, no valid parallels can be drawn, no frame of reference seems large enough to hold all of Tuesday’s events.

Three hijacked jets completed suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

University representatives from the offices of the president, vice president, provosts, regents and emergency management decided to cancel all University classes at noon.

“Obviously this is horrible,” University President Mark Yudof said around 11 a.m. Tuesday. “I mean, I’ve been through many tragedies: the Kennedy assassination, the earlier bombing of World Trade stations.”

Another hijacked jet, a flight from Newark to Los Angeles, crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Initial reports indicated the terrorists might have been trying to take the plane to Camp David, the President’s Maryland retreat.

The attack is the worst terrorist action on American soil, with tens of thousands presumed dead at press time.

“It seems to be one of the more horrific events of our new century, certainly compared to the 20th century,” Yudof said.

Vice President for Student Development Robert Jones found himself at a loss for the proper words.

“I was absolutely devastated. I was watching ‘Good Morning America’ when they interrupted that program, and I was just in a state of disbelief. It looked like something from a movie set,” Jones said.

Though the University received no threats, the magnitude of events mandated a period of mourning.

“Given that this is the worst kind of thing that’s ever happened in this country, our students couldn’t help but be affected, and that’s why our reaction was to cancel classes for the day,” Jones said.

It marked the first time since Halloween 1991 – when weather made transit dangerous – that all classes have been canceled at the University. Classes will occur as scheduled Wednesday pending further notice, Jones added.

The University’s Board of Regents’ monthly meeting, originally scheduled for Sept. 13-14 at the Crookston campus, has been moved to the Twin Cities campus to allow senior administrators to remain at the University.

Throughout the state and nation, leaders responded quickly to the attacks.

President George W. Bush addressed the nation near noon CDT, beginning his speech with a promise of reprisal.

“Freedom was attacked this morning, and freedom will be defended,” Bush said.

All flights in the United States were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration and trans-Atlantic flights were rerouted to Canada.

Minnesota’s National Guard is on high alert, Gov. Jesse Ventura said from the Capitol steps. He also called for all flags to be flown at half-staff.

The IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis and the World Trade Center in St. Paul were closed, as well as Bloomington’s Mall of America.

Despite the events of the day, Minnesota mayoral and City Council primaries did occur. Those elections for mayor and other offices were postponed in New York.

Yudof stressed that the University had received no direct threats, though extra precautions were taken. He also urged students to contact friends and family.

Judson Freed, University assistant director of emergency management, said his office was in contact with the FBI, police and the state’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate an official response.

“I don’t think we’ve ever dismissed classes for something like this,” Freed said. “This was really done to allow the students to find out what happened. We have a lot of people from overseas, a lot of people from New York, with friends or family who may very well work in that building.”

Freed also said though the University was under no more threat than any normal day, Sept. 11 would live in infamy in the minds of today’s college students.

“This is the Kennedy assassination for this generation,” Freed said. “People are going to remember where they were the day the World Trade Center was knocked down.”

 

Josh Linehan welcomes comments
at [email protected] and Mike Zacharias welcomes comments at [email protected]