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by Bill Gerson, President of Faculty Senate

On Monday, September 17, the college held a memorial for those who died or were wounded on September 11. Speakers included Board of Trustees Chairperson Charles Steinecke, President Ronald Williams, Dean Jay Boyar, SGB President Frances Marshall, ASO Chair Vera Bagley, and Faculty Organization President Bill Gerson. Below are Professor Gerson's remarks.

A Philosopher who's a bit out of fashion these days once said, "Nothing human is alien to me." What I think he meant is that he, and everybody in the world, has the capacity for the full range of human behavior, from the best to the worst. Since last Tuesday, we have seen that range, from the murderous acts of the hijackers to the bravery and self-sacrifice of the thousands who have aided the wounded and suffering victims.

It is very difficult to come to terms with the past week's events. Since we are assembled here at a learning institution, I think it appropriate that I urge you to learn as much as you can about the politics and historical background leading up to Tuesday's horror.

Learning and understanding are among your best tools against fear and hopelessness. I also urge you to reflect on the distinction between justice and vengeance. A radio commentator I heard a few days ago quoted this line from a poem by W. H. Auden:

Those to whom evil is done - Do evil in return

Few will be surprised if the men who hijacked the four planes and caused the deaths of thousands prove to be people who believed they or those close to them were in some way wronged by the actions of the United States. It is important that any actions we as a nation take be aimed at justice, not vengeance.

This brings me to my last point. I urge you all to participate in whatever ways are possible in determining how the United States will respond to the attacks. Our leaders, from the president on down, need to hear from all of us. What they do in our country's name will affect our future, and that of the entire world.

Death has been for many of us a kind of abstraction, something that happened to the very old or the occasional younger person unlucky enough to be caught in an accident. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, changed that. If any good can come from the horror of that day, it will be because the consciousness of the world has been changed, and people everywhere look at the devastation and pledge that it will never occur again. 


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 17, No. 1

Fall 2001