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Community in the Wake of Tragedy

Yesterday’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon resulted in terrible losses of human life and irreparable damage to America’s sense of security. Our condolences go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as to their friends and family.

The Tech commends MIT’s administration for its immediate and well coordinated efforts to provide support for a confused and devastated campus community. Almost immediately, faculty and staff throughout the Institute came together to help students to cope with this tragedy. Signs advertising support services were posted across campus almost immediately after news of the attacks first broke, and MIT’s chaplains opened their doors to anyone who needed to talk. The chapel was open for quiet reflection and prayer, and the chaplaincy organized a vigil yesterday evening which allowed community members to come together and share their grief. At the suggestion of Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict, Campus Dining Services even agreed to significantly extend campus dining hours.

Other individuals on campus, such as the organizers and supporters of the blood drive, have acted quickly to give students, faculty, and staff a channel for supporting the victims of this tragedy at a time when blood supplies in New York and Washington, D.C. are dangerously low.

With President Charles M. Vest trapped abroad due to America’s grounded airlines, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 led MIT’s administrators to action. They should be congratulated for making themselves accessible to students during an exceptionally distressful day. Many made significant personal sacrifices to remain available until late at night.

The number of casualties will only grow in the coming days, and we will not know the full extent of the damage for weeks or even months to come. The support networks established in the past twenty-four hours must be maintained as news of family, friends, and alumni reaches the Institute.

The best support network lies within our own communities. It can be surprisingly helpful to talk to a roommate, a friend, or even an acquaintance from class. Tuesday’s vigil provided an opportunity for community members to reach out to one another, and today’s gathering in Killian Court should do the same.

Those who are grieving will be searching for someone or something to blame, and it is easy to hypothesize on who could be responsible for this attack. As speculation regarding responsibility runs rampant in the media, MIT students, faculty, and staff must be careful not to alienate members of our own community.

MIT must join the rest of the nation in mourning this tragedy, but at the same time we must press on, supported by the strength of our country and our community.