One week from today is the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and like the rest of the nation, the University will commemorate the anniversary in its own way. The University's plans for Sept. 11, which were released last week, are somber, respectful and elegant.
The center of the University's memorial is the ringing of the Chapel bell. The bell will ring once for each major event of Sept. 11, at the exact time each event occurred. The bell will also toll once for each of six alumni who died in the attacks. The deceased alumni will also be honored with trees planted outside of the West-Edens Link.
These events symbolically recreate what occurred last year, in a respectful remembrance, but also as a message of hope for the future. In particular, the Chapel bells are very powerful and tasteful. The administration has done an excellent job carefully planning this important and heart-felt memorial.
The day will open with a reception at the Duke University Museum of Art and will close with a multidisciplinary symposium discussing the attacks. In addition to the official University events, many campus groups have planned their own commemoration of the day.
Despite all the remembrances, class will continue to be in session on Sept. 11 this year as it was last year. The University must remember that whatever else is going on, it remains a place focused on academic pursuits, and thus it is appropriate class remains in session. Additionally, the fact classes will be held that day gives students a structured opportunity to discuss the events of the past year in an intellectual climate.
Professors have the discretion whether to utilize class time to discuss Sept. 11 or not, but surely many professors will take advantage of such an opportunity. Even though some classes may seem like a somewhat random place to discuss the implications of Sept. 11, classes are nevertheless a gathering of students, and it is always enlightening and cathartic to just discuss.
Because the University is an intellectual place, it is important to have the time and opportunity to discuss events that are so important in history. The University is one place where people can engage in actual, informed discourse about the events of Sept. 11, their aftermath and their long-term impact.
The only questionable part of the schedule for Sept. 11 is that there is only one forum being held, and it is to be held in the Sanford Public Policy building, one of the smaller venues on campus. The University should strongly consider either moving the forum to a larger location or consider having more forums, in order to give more students the opportunity to attend.