Panel discusses tragedy, next step

Anna Holland

As the debris begins to settle and Americans begin to come to terms with the devastation of this week’s terrorist attacks, several people are beginning to point fingers and search for terrorists – even among ISU students.

At the “After September 11: Where Do We Go from Here?” forum held Thursday afternoon in the Memorial Union, tensions and emotions ran high while several students, faculty and staff members voiced their concerns and thoughts about what will happen across the campus, the nation and the world.

Tracey Owens Patton, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, said several Muslim and Middle Eastern students reported they received death threats.

“[There is] language threatening brown people,” she said. “We’re assuming that the terrorists are from the Middle East. Any action we take . . . is just as egregious as what happened in New York and Washington, D.C.”

Dennis Peterson, director of International Education Services, said the 2,500 international students are “condemning the violence [and] the cowardly terrorism.”

“We value their presence here,” he said. “[International students] want the same things we Americans do – an education.”

Peterson said many Muslim students are grieving. Many had family and friends who worked in the World Trade Center.

“People from the Middle East should not be singled out, shouldn’t be harassed,” he said. “Every religion – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism – all have a common core . I know it as the Golden Rule.”

Thursday’s forum addressed other concerns as well.

Dr. Terry Mason, director of Student Counseling Services, spoke about possible psychological effects of the tragedy.

“As the reality sets in, I think each of us will react differently,” he said. “We need to come together as a campus community, as an Ames community . a world community to support each other, to take care of each other, but more importantly, to take care of ourselves.”

Mason said after the shock from the news of this event disappears, it could be replaced by one or more of several emotions. Grief, shame, anxiety, anger and national pride would be very common, he said.

So would loss of security and powerlessness, Mason said.

“[The attack] has shaken the very core of security and confidence,” he said.

Mason also warned students not to lash out at people who had no role in Tuesday’s events.

“Avoid directing anger at international students and residents,” he said. “We have to realize these people did not do this. Be angry at the terrorists.”

While some students expressed the need for retaliation, others said they felt the United States should not attack anyone – even whoever is responsible.

John Donaghy, lay minister with St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Student Center, 2210 Lincoln Way, spoke on finding “alternative responses.”

“Revenge and retaliation will not bring justice,” he said. “As a Christian, I say no to all calls for revenge and retaliation.”

The quest for revenge is “not a healthy way to live,” said Donaghy, who received loud applause after his speech.

Sydney Slater, freshman in LAS who attended the event, agreed with Donaghy’s message.

“There’s a difference between seeking justice and seeking revenge,” Slater said. “If we send 10,000 missiles . we’re trying to say we want to fight . No matter what we’re fighting for, everybody loses something.”

Slater said the country should “try to resolve this in a more peaceful manner.”

James McCormick, chairman and professor of political science, said this event will shape the future of the country.

“This is the kind of event that will shape this generation and the next in terms of political outlook,” he said. “Particularly for young people whose political views are not well set.”

McCormick said the event will likely be a topic of discussion for months and years.

“[This is] a transnational issue that has been around a long time,” he said, “. and we have not addressed [it] as a society.”