College comforts students in wake of tragedy

by John Teti | 9/12/01 5:00am

Nearly 36 hours after unprecedented terrorist attacks shocked the United States, a crowd of students, faculty and Upper Valley residents assembled on the Green in a candlelight vigil for victims.

Dean of the Tucker Foundation Stuart Lord presided over tonight's event, saying that "we seek the light of peace and love."

College President James Wright also addressed the audience of approximately 1250. Among quotes from Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, Wright said, "Here we all look upon one another ... with a greater sense of how precious our unity is."

In a show of such unity, Hillel Rabbi Edward Boraz and Al-Nur Advisor Amin Plaisted shared the lectern for their portion of the program. Each delivered his own speech, and then the two men recited a mutual statement in unison.

Other speakers included Student Body President Molly Stutzman '02, Graduate Student Council Co-President Neema Ganju and local writer Grace Paley.

Some quietly sang along as the Baker Bells played "America the Beautiful" at 9:25 p.m. The bells then tolled seven times -- for the four airplanes and three buildings involved in the attacks -- to end the ceremonies.

The vigil was the latest of the College's arrangements to help members of the Dartmouth community cope with Tuesday's tragedy.

On Tuesday, a big-screen TV and folding chairs were placed in Collis Commonground to create a "drop-in site" for students and visiting parents.

The College phoned parents of '05s on DOC trips, asking if there were any messages they wanted to send to their children.

Small groups of students and staff then dispersed into the Upper Valley to tell an estimated 400 trip leaders and freshmen of the attacks.

In light of reports that some students are stranded at airports and are scrambling to make new plans, the First-Year Office is considering changes to the orientation schedule. Dean of the College James Larimore said the itinerary "is flexible enough to make whatever necessary adjustments."

Information on Dartmouth-related casualties remains scarce. "Given the scale of devastation in New York and Washington," Larimore said, "we are all anticipating the worst and hoping for the best."

On Dartmouth's website, concerned members of the Dartmouth community can consult a list of phone numbers for counseling and deans' offices. The College has also established a toll-free information hotline at (866) 688-1213.

Experience with the Zantop tragedy earlier this year left the College better prepared to respond to Tuesday's crisis, according to Larimore. The murder of two professors contradicted students' perception of the Upper Valley as a quiet, safe place.

Larimore noted, "The assumptions of safety [that] people in this country carry with them were shattered this year, as well."