As the 10-year anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 looms near, the changes that occurred not just in the nation, but in the UCA community are still felt through the stories of various faculty and staff who were on campus the day of the terrorist attacks.
Though the opinions of whether or not the campus was directly affected varies amongst the faculty and staff, it seems virtually agreed upon that the impact the attacks in New York and Washington D.C. as well as the plane that crashed into the twin towers were long-felt by the students and faculty of the time.
“I think some changes aren’t just campus, they’re just people in general,” Library Director Art Lichtenstein said. “I think culturally we’ve always had a feeling that we’re not prone to those types of things”
As far as the campus is concerned, he said, his biggest worry since 9/11 has been students’ reactions to international students from the Middle East.
“I think with some of the stuff that’s come out in the mass media and our popular culture where people have taken slams at people from the Middle East, I worry sometimes about the experience of some of our students and hope that they’re not getting icy stares,” he said.
Lichtenstein, who spent a semester studying in Mexico, said he experienced the feelings of not belonging on a campus and worries that some international students may feel the same because of the terrorist attacks.
“On campus, I think the impact was less direct,” history professor James Brodman said.
Brodman attributed the impact of 9/11 to three different indirect results. The first result he said was that the campus saw less students, due to many joining or continuing work in the military.
“We’ve all lost students in the middle of the semester to war,” he said.
The second indirect result, he said, was that students wanted to become more aware of Islamic and international history than before. The third result, which is continuing, is the financial strain it put on everyone.
Perhaps the biggest impact of 9/11 was felt by the university’s police department, who “became more vigilant,” UCAPD police chief Larry James said.
“Nobody looks out of place on a campus, but you have to be vigilant,” he said.
James said UCAPD put out information to the community about basic homeland security procedures, asking everyone to support any suspicious behavior or activity and not to dismiss it as “unexplainable.”
James also said the impact at UCA wasn’t nearly as big as what it would have been if it had a major institution, such as a sports venue.
The 9/11 attacks, he said, played the first part in a series of events that have defined UCA’s police force today.
“If you want to break it down into three different areas … we have the increased awareness after 9/11, we have increased responsiveness and capabilities after Virginia Tech, but frankly, it was after our double-homicide on the campus that we actually went the next step, which was cameras, mass communication text messaging, audible systems, different forms of communication,” James said. He said it was the transition from 9/11 to now that has pushed all the upgrades of the department.
Psychology professor Kevin Rowell was one of many Arkansan volunteers who donated their time to helping those directly affected by the attacks. Rowell, who spent two weeks after 9/11 in Newark, N.J., went to make sure other volunteers, victims of the attack and employees of the airlines were in good mental health.
Rowell wasn’t assigned to Ground Zero to help with cleanup or evaluate victims there, but he said the affect was just as bad on the New Jersey side of the river.
“About 15 to 20 percent of people have a difficult time in any disaster. It’s the same thing with flight crews,” he said. “Many of them knew the flight crews that went down with the planes. There were a lot of traumatic issues for them to work on,” Rowell said.