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September 27, 2001 Concordians respond to the tragedy in United States



Tomas Ortega pins a ribbon on journalism student Mark Ordonselli

Students distributed white wristbands for peace in the Hall Building lobby on Sept. 20. Above, Mark Ordonselli and Tomas Ortega. The Hall Building will soon sport banners urging moderation, and giving students a chance to talk about tolerance, part of an apolitical project undertaken by a group of students led by former student president Jonathan Carruthers.

Photo by Jean-François Majeau

by Barbara Black

The Concordia community reacted to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon quickly, and with full hearts.

Dean of Students Donald Boisvert acted quickly to respond to the possibility of reprisals against students by making available counsellors and other support. A special effort was made to reach out to Muslim women and to others particularly affected.

From staff, there were offers of material assistance, including blood transfusions, although it was soon determined that for various reasons, notably the fact that there were few survivors, this kind of aid was not much needed.

However, an opportunity to donate to the New York firefighters and police, who lost about 400 officers in the collapse of the buildings, was included with the Shuffle fundraising drive, held last Friday.

About 125 people attended a commemorative service at the downtown Faculty Club on Friday, Sept. 11, organized by Campus Ministry.

The speakers included the rector, full-time chaplains Peter Côté and Rev. Ellie Hummel, volunteer associate chaplains Imam Salam Elmenyawi and Manjit Singh, and student Josh Margo, from Concordia Hillel, who spoke extemporaneously and with emotion. Chaplain Daryl Lynn Ross and the dean of students gave readings, and solemn music was provided by Gary Russell (cello) and James Chou (violin).

Concordia’s Public Relations Department had a steady stream of phone calls after the disaster. Some were from frightened parents, and from members of the public who had heard a false news item on CJAD that some Concordia students were seen celebrating the attack.

The university acted fast to correct this mistake. Executive Director of Communications Dennis Murphy went on air to point out that the report had no foundation, and may have stemmed from orientation activities going on around the downtown campus.

The media were calling the Public Relations Department, too, looking for academic experts to comment on the attack and its implications. Christine Mota said she got 37 media calls on Tuesday alone. She and her colleague Evelyne Abitbol organized interviews for political scientists Henry Habib and Norrin Ripsman, aviation management experts Dale Doreen and Mick Carney, Islamic scholar Lynda Clarke, Adjunct Professor Rabbi Howard Joseph, and historian John Hill, among others.

See also International Students Office responds