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MIT Helps Campus Handle Tragedy

By Jennifer Krishnan


As MIT watched yesterday’s horrors in New York and Washington, D.C. unfold on televisions across campus, administrators and support staff mobilized to help students cope with the disaster.

“It’s the same stunned disbelief as the disbelief at Kennedy’s assassination,” said Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert.

As the news filtered through the halls of the Institute, MIT’s Emergency Response Team, comprised of senior MIT leadership, met to discuss what actions the administration should take.

Institute carries on with classes

The team, led by Executive Vice President John R. Curry, decided not to cancel classes yesterday. Several other local colleges, including Harvard University, were closed.

Administrators decided to keep the Institute open yesterday and again today in order to help bring students, faculty, and staff together to cope with the attacks.

“We want to give people the chance to be together and to talk,” said Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine. “Faculty and staff, to the extent possible, should be available” to students during this tragic time.

Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 notified students via e-mail that all classes today will conclude at 3 p.m. Absences will be excused, and some classes may be cancelled based on individual needs.

“This is an extraordinary event, and by not closing, the Institute does not mean to suggest that things are normal,” Clay said.

Nor did operations run normally yesterday. Several instructors cancelled classes, and the Green Building was closed at the discretion of the Dean of the Science, Prof. Robert J. Silbey. All non-essential personnel were also dismissed from the Lincoln Laboratories yesterday.

MIT sponsors community events

At 3 p.m. today, MIT students, faculty, and staff are invited to Killian Court “to share our feelings, support each other as members of the community, and draw strength from our common sense of purpose and caring,” Clay said.

Today at 5 p.m., MIT’s Center for International Studies will host an open forum on yesterday’s events, in an effort to help students make sense of what happened. The forum will be held in Building E38.

Curry said the administration was trying to foster “a heightened sense of awareness” and be “watchful and caring.”

“A lot of people are concerned about what they know -- namely, there was a terrible tragedy -- and what they don’t know,” Clay said.

Extended support services offered

MIT offered extended services for students seeking counseling or help in coping with yesterday’s events.

The MIT Chapel was open all day yesterday, and chaplains were available for discussion until 11 p.m.Campus Dining provided beverages, snacks, and a place to congregate last night until 11 p.m.

Counseling and Support Services and MIT Mental Health both held extended hours yesterday.

Administrative offices remain open today, and students can speak to deans as usual.