Sept. 12, 2002--Students, faculty and members of the community gathered
Wednesday night after the Candlelight Commemoration in rooms 037 and 111
of Memorial Hall to talk about how their nation and their lives have changed
in the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The sessions, “UD Campus and the World” and “Casualties at Home: Civil
Liberties and Freedom of Speech,” were held simultaneously.
|Lesa Griffiths and Bahram Rajaee open discussion on how students
perceive the world around them in the aftermath of 9/11.
Lesa Griffiths, director of the Center for International Studies, and
Bahram Rajaee, director of international projects, led the “UD Campus and
the World” discussion that focused on how students perceive the world around
them since 9/11.
Griffiths opened the discussion by asking participants if their daily
lives are different now. “Has it [9/11] influenced your interactions with
other people, your career choices, travel?” she asked.
Most said that their daily routines haven’t changed, but their feelings
and perceptions have. One student said he is reading the newspaper more,
and now he is always wondering what people he doesn’t know are thinking.
Another said that if he saw a mugging or a robbery that he would definitely
intervene and that he didn’t feel that way before 9/11. He said he was
influenced by the passengers of Flight 93 who crashed the plane into the
Pennsylvania countryside before it could be used as a weapon of destruction.
One student said he now trusts people more because of the acts of generosity
and self-sacrifice he saw that day and afterwards. “After seeing people
give money, blood and compassion, I feel a larger sense of closeness to
Americans in general.”
Some said they never realized, before 9/11, the extent of anti-American
feeling around the world and were glad to see an outpouring of sympathy
by foreign nations for the lives lost that day.
Several students had traveled in the U.S. and said they were amazed
and reassured by the increased security. One young man described his trip
to Disneyland and how security people went through every bag anyone was
carrying. He said it took hours just to get through the gate, but that
he was “glad and happy they were doing it.”
There were those who thought more of the Arab world because of the outpouring
of support for the U.S.
A woman who was in a kibbutz in Israel when the planes struck said everyone
around her was crying and didn’t know what to say to her.
Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public
Policy and James Magee, professor of political science and international
relations, moderated “Casualties at Home: Civil Liberties and Freedom of
Speech,” questioning whether students feel protected or at risk since the
passage of the USA Patriot Act, greatly expanding the government’s ability
to conduct surveillance within the U.S.
Ware and Magee gave a brief overview of the USA Patriot Act and the
U.S. Supreme Court civil rights challenges to it. These challenges are
based on the refusal of the INS to release the names of foreign nationals
being detained and the closing of deportation hearings to the public.
Many of the students and faculty at this discussion were civil libertarians
and said they felt that the mind-set after 9/11 and the passage of the
Patriot Act has dealt a blow to civil liberties.
Ware said that rounding up people based on their ethnicity has proven
an inefficient way to engage in a police investigation and endangers the
rights of innocent individuals.
|Leland Ware (left) and James Magee lead discussion on the current
state of civil liberties.
But, Magee said the courts are being much more receptive to protecting
individual freedoms today. He said he didn’t see “the rush of repression”
in legal proceedings as there was in the 1960s during the civil rights
One man said his friend was arrested at the Canadian border and searched
because he looked like the “profile,” and another said his brother was
searched for the same reason. Both said they were disturbed by the fact
that they were singled out because of their looks and for no other reason.
A woman said she was concerned that singling out Muslims will send the
wrong message to the world. “Muslims who see the way we are treating them
will not be swayed to our cause. It can’t help us in finding peaceful solutions
to our problems, and we won’t have accomplished anything.”
Most of the 30 participants seemed to feel that the Patriot Act and
actions by the INS and other federal law enforcement agencies since 9/11
have sent the U.S. drifting towards a more repressive society.
But, one student said that he feels safer because of these laws. “Even
if you go to 2,000 homes and get one person, in my eyes it’s worth it.”
He said there is still freedom of speech and respect for people of different
ethnic origins in this country and gave as an example the way the University
of Delaware conducted its Sept. 11 commemoration by including Muslim spokespersons
in every part of the ceremony.
Article by Barbara Garrison
Photos by Kathy Flickinger