Students express shock; University resumes classes

On the surface, the usual bustle of student movement returned to the University on Wednesday morning. But the atmosphere surrounding the first day back was far from typical.

“The world we live in as we used to know it changed yesterday around 9 a.m.,” Paul Gewalt, a senior biology major said. “It doesn’t feel quite right to be back.”

“It’s still tough to focus, but it’s easier than yesterday,” said Emil Girth, a junior cultural studies major.

“I couldn’t have imagined concentrating yesterday,” Girth said. “Nobody was quite sure what to do.”

Doug Snaza, a cashier with University Bookstores, was back to business.

“The students are thunderstruck, dumbfounded,” Snaza said.

He said traffic at the outdoor clothing sales where he works slowed Wednesday. The students who did stop by all had similar looks of sadness on their faces.

“I don’t think people have grasped that it happened yet,” Snaza said.

History of science and physics professor Alan Shapiro said it was “good to resume normalcy; it didn’t happen here.”

He said he thought it was good to be back since the University really wasn’t in any danger.

Shapiro was one of the Minnesota residents who had extra reason to feel tense after learning of the attacks. He has family in New York.

“I was nervous until I found out they were OK,” he said.

Like others with friends and family in New York, Shapiro met with frustration when trying to confirm their safety.

“It took about three or four hours to find out,” he said.

While most agreed on the awkwardness of returning, there were mixed feelings about what course of action the United States should take.

“People have talked about attacking Afghanistan, but it’s one person or group of people, not an entire country,” said Kate Olson, a senior in cultural studies.

“Normally, you declare war on a nation,” Girth said. “How do you declare war on an individual?”

Some students feared the reaction of people toward those of Arabic or Muslim backgrounds at the University.

“As horrible as it is, you want to put the blame on someone,” Gewalt said. “It’s more out of reaction than deep-rooted hatred. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t react the same way.”

“I’ve seen some Arabic girls wearing headdresses,” said Karthik Viswanathan, an Institute of Technology student. “It was a bold move.”

Viswanathan also said he understood some people might react in an unfavorable way but that in general people showed no scrutiny.

“It’s people’s nature to point fingers,” he said, “but that shouldn’t happen.”

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]