10 years later, 9/11 remembered on WUSTL campus in a variety of ways

Student-organized memorial, memory project and panel discussions will highlight week’s worth of activities
By Eileen P. Duggan
WUSTL archive

The mood was somber on campus in the days following 9/11, as students gathered in Brookings Quadrangle Sept. 12, 2001, for a candlelight vigil. Students also organized blood drives and garage sales and helped each other through difficult times. Ten years later, students are mobilized again to commemorate the events of 9/11.

The Washington University in St. Louis community will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with several university-wide events, including a student-organized memorial service, a panel discussion launching a cultural archives project and a discussion addressing the conflict between national security and civil liberties since 9/11.

“Ten Years Later,” a memorial event organized by students, will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Edison Theatre in Mallinckrodt Center.

“This event serves not only as a way to honor the memories of those lost in the attacks, but also as a way for us to reflect upon the way the attacks affect us as a community — locally, nationally and internationally,” says John Mern, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and finance, who led the effort along with junior Jannina Phi, an economics and psychology major in Arts & Sciences.

“Our hope is that guests will walk away with a renewed sense of the importance of community and the strengths of the one we have here on the Washington University campus,” Mern says.

The event will feature remarks by Wayne Fields, PhD, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor in English in Arts & Sciences, and William R. Lowry, PhD, professor of political science in Arts & Sciences. An international perspective will be shared by Siddharth Krishnan, a sophomore majoring in engineering, who was living abroad at the time of the attacks.

The program will include a cappella performances by the Pikers, the Stereotypes and After Dark, and a poetry reading by members of WU-SLAM. A short vigil led by Rabbi Hershey Novack of the Interfaith Campus Ministries Association and a color guard by the campus ROTC will end the memorial.

Directly following the memorial event, the Inter-Beliefs Council of the Campus Y will host a discussion aimed toward allowing attendees an avenue to reflect upon what the speakers talked about and the country as a whole 10 years later.

No student group or university department is officially sponsoring the memorial, but the students received support from the Student Involvement and Leadership and Campus Life staffs, and has received funding from Student Union.

Mern, 20, planned a similar event last year with Ammar Karimjee, a junior majoring in political science and economics, both in Arts & Sciences, who is studying abroad this year.

As a freshman, Mern was stunned by the lack of recognition of 9/11 on campus, so he set out to plan for the next anniversary himself. “September 11 took so much from our country, and one of the only things we could take back was the closeness that came in healing as a nation and as neighbors,” he says. “By continuing to grow that closeness we can make the most of that small gain. This event is my contribution to that.”

Although Mern grew up in Florida, his family is from a small neighborhood in Long Island, N.Y. “I think seeing the change in the attitudes there had an impact on me as well,” he says. “Though I was in fifth grade at the time, I like to think that it made me more conscientious of my impact on the world around me.”

Memory project

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, American Culture Studies in Arts & Sciences will host a panel discussion through which the university will both memorialize 9/11 and reflect upon its significance. The event also will launch “Remembering 9/11,” a project designed to capture reflections and memories in a multifaceted cultural archive.

Library of Congress

Images like this one of the Manhattan skyline the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, are burned in our collective memory and still resonate 10 years later.

“Washington University Remembers 9/11: A Panel Discussion” will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 14 in Whitaker Hall Auditorium and will feature Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and faculty and administrators who were on campus 10 years ago.

“Remembering 9/11 gives us an opportunity to recall more than the terrible sense of uncertainty and loss; it allows as well recollection of how people came together, how they took care of one another,” says Fields, a member of the panel.

“Those of us who were on the Washington University campus 10 years ago saw a community that comforted those whose families were in greatest danger and protected those among us whose religious beliefs or ethnicity might have put them at risk,” Fields says.

The panel will discuss how the campus community responded to news of the attacks in the days and weeks afterward and offer their insights about how these events continue to impact their work with students, the university and the nation.

“For a while at least, the tragedy of that day reminded us of our need for one another and of what it means for a free people to commit themselves to the challenges of being one as well as many,” Fields says. “These are matters worth remembering.”

In addition to Fields, panelists will include:

  • Chancellor Wrighton;
  • Justin Carroll, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of students;
  • Andrew Sobel, PhD, associate professor of political science; and
  • Jill Stratton, associate dean of students and director of residential academic programs.

Randall Calvert, PhD, the Thomas F. Eagleton University Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science and director of American Culture Studies in Arts & Sciences, will serve as moderator.

The primary objective of the larger “Remembering 9/11” project is the collection of new and historical artifacts that reveal 9/11’s impact on the university and its members, including interviews, written reflections, speeches, oral histories, historical documents and original works of art.

Current students and alumni will be invited to contribute or to help with collection throughout the anniversary year, and future students will be able to use the archive for research.

“Remembering 9/11” will become part of American Culture Studies’ American Lives, a digital initiative begun in 2003 with the goal of developing a unique learning environment for students of American culture.

For more on “Remembering 9/11,” see remembering911.wustl.edu.

National security vs. civil liberties

A panel discussion,“Navigating a Post 9/11 World: A Decade of Lessons Learned,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Whitaker Hall Auditorium to explore the conflict between national security and civil liberties since 9/11.

The discussion is sponsored by the university’s John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics and the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, in partnership with the Assembly Series and student organizations: the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Muslim Students Association.

The national organization, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, is collaborating with the university to present the discussion, which will be followed by a reception in Whitaker Atrium.

The panel will address ways that freedom of religion has faced challenges regarding Islam in America, the partisan split in lawmakers’ approach to terror investigations, and whether the focus on radical Muslims is justified.

Panelists include:

  • Sahar E. Aziz, associate professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University and a legal fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding;
  • John R. Bowen, PhD, the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology in Arts & Sciences; and
  • Gulten Ilhan, professor of philosophy at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.

The discussion will be moderated by R. Marie Griffith, PhD, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics and the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. The welcome address will be given by Ahmet T. Karamustafa, PhD, professor of history and of religious studies, both in Arts & Sciences.

The event also commemorates Constitution Day, which recognizes the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Advance RSVP required at conta.cc/ISPUWUSTL.

Schedule of events

Ten Years Later
1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11
Edison Theatre, Mallinckrodt Center

Memorial for the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Includes speakers; performances by the Pikers, the Stereotypes and After Dark; and poetry readings.

Campus Y Discussion
Immediately following Edison event, approximately 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 Mallinckrodt Center

Attendees continue their reflections in deeper conversations.

Washington University Remembers 9/11: A Panel Discussion
5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14
Whitaker Hall Auditorium

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, Wayne Fields and several faculty and administrators reflect on the significance of 9/11 for the campus.

Navigating a Post 9/11 World: A Decade of Lessons Learned
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15
Whitaker Hall Auditorium

Panel discussion exploring the conflict between national security and civil liberties since 9/11 and celebrating Constitution Day.

Susan Killenberg McGinn
Executive Director of University News Service
(314) 935-5254; (314) 603-6008 (cell)