Effects of Sept. 11 Linger into Spring





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First came the shock: Two jetliners had slammed into the World Trade Center. Wait, the Pentagon, too.

"Did you hear," students asked their friends as they walked to morning classes that Tuesday.

"Yeah, I can't believe it," was the response and it was shock and horror in their eyes.

"It seems kind of stupid to do this on a day like this, said one professor at the beginning of his scheduled lecture. "But this is all we can do, just keep going on."

In the days that followed Sept. 11, the campus seemed different- more reverent, more spiritual. Students wrote sentiments on large posters near Sather Gate. They held candlelight vigils. And, of course, they protested the looming war.

Nearly a week after the attack, 12,000 students, faculty and staff gathered at Memorial Glade for a campus tribute to the victims of the attacks. Speaking to the largest campus audience assembled in recent history, Chancellor Robert Berdahl told the community not to let the passion and emotion evoked by the attack lead the campus a stray from its goal of seeking truth.

"Let us not allow ourselves and our community to be changed," Berdahl said.

Now, more than four months since the attacks, whether the campus has changed or not is an open question, but the effects of the attacks linger.

Security on campus for example, continues to reflect the threat of terrorist attacks against the campus, said UC police Capt. Bill Cooper.

UC police continue to shore up security at critical facilities by adding alarm systems and restricting access, Cooper said, as well as limiting vehicle access to campus at night and on weekends.

Police have also worked to ensure the safety of students who may be targets of harassment and hate crimes, Cooper said.

The Campanile, he said, remains closed, though it may be reopened this spring.

The attacks have also impacted courses on campus, with many professors teaching new classes this spring that are related to Sept. 11.

Judith Gruber, Chair of the Political Science Department, said the faculty recognized a need to address the attacks in the classroom.

"There was a sense that the campus needed to provide courses that will provide understanding," Gruber said.

Dean of Social Sciences George Breslauer, who this semester is teaching a freshman seminar entitled, "September 11: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications" with a colleague, said that his motivation for teaching the class was two-fold.

"I wanted to give students the opportunity to engage in structured discussion of these issues," Breslauer said. "But I also wanted the opportunity to think these issues through along with the students. In that sense, it's therapeutic for me as well. I felt an obligation to the students and myself to talk this through."

The course will feature historical background as well as a look at possibilities for the future, with discussion of Islam, U.S. foreign policy, the nature of fanaticism, the role of the world court, and the many influences on American foreign policy.

Professor Michael Watts is teaching a freshman seminar about "Islam and Modernity." He said he was motivated to teach the class because much of the mainstream information about the attacks lacks perspective and context.

"If the events of September 11th show anything, it is that an educated person needs to be very aware of the role of the United States in the world, or more concretely, what some of the consequences of American hegemony have been in the last fifty years," Watts said.

Watts said he hopes the faculty's commitment to teaching about the attacks "doesn't go away, because September 11th and the underlying issues that were generative of it wont go away," Watts said, "These issues will require a sustained interest, and there is something enduring here, a commitment of understanding to the world."

Another enduring effect of the attacks is an anthology detailing the events of Sept. 11, a concept conceived and produced by UC Berkeley graduate students in anthropology Adrian McIntyre and Misha Klein.

The articles, letters and other material in the reader "provide a unique combination of historical and cross-cultural perspective," McIntyre said.

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