Daily Archives: September 10, 2003
Where were you at 8:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001? I was in my room in Jogues Hall, about a week into my freshman year at Fairfield. At 10:28 a.m. I watched the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapse, and my view of reality collapsed along with it.
It is now September 11, 2003, and many of us have only recently come to terms with what happened two years ago today. Being from Long Island, the sight of the World Trade Center rising over the New York City skyline always gave me the feeling that I was home. On that day I saw a landmark from my childhood disappear forever.
For me this day was full of fear for loved ones who could not be found, worry for those known to be responding to the Towers in the NYPD and FDNY, and the horror of sights which I could not bring myself to understand.
Thankfully everyone I knew escaped from the Towers with their lives, but many people did not. What can we learn from the tragedy of September 11? Two years later, how should we remember this date?
Some people believe that September 11 should be made a national holiday, and that people should receive a day off from work. This past Thursday the President declared September 11, 2002 Patriot Day, during which all Americans should fly our flags at half staff and observe moments of silence, while still attending the normal work day. I don’t think America needs a national day off to remember September 11, even though this may not be the popular belief. Some may choose to take off from work, but I would rather go on with my daily life. The terrorists wanted to disrupt life in America, and by greatly altering my daily live I would be allowing them that victory.
Contributing to my opinion is a fear that if September 11 did become a national holiday, it may go the way of Memorial Day. A day set aside to remember those who died defending our country is now better known as a great day to find sales at the mall. Personally I would rather find a few minutes in my busy day to remember those we lost in the Towers, the Pentagon and in the skies over Pennsylvania than receive $50 off a pair of shoes at Bloomingdales.
Just as our grandparents will always remember December 7, 1941 and our parents will remember November 22, 1963, September 11, 2001 will be the date that will live in infamy for our generation. It was a day of great tragedy, but also in its own way it brought not only New Yorkers together, but all Americans. Whatever you choose to do today, we should all remember those who left home the morning of September 11, 2001 and never returned.
The apartments were evacuated and $200,000 was spent in cleaning after summer residents complained of threatening amounts of mold spores growing on furniture, climbing up walls and causing minor health problems over the hot and humid summer.
“Each apartment was cleaned fully before opening,” said Gary Stephenson, Director of Housing. “They were cleaned completely, vertically and horizontally.”
The apartment complex was occupied during the summer with mainly students, 28 according to an email obtained by the Mirror. Each student was moved to a townhouse and the apartments were closed for cleaning.
“The cleaning process went as smooth as it could go,” said Richard Taylor, Associate Vice President for Campus Planning ‘ Operations. “We are actually lucky to have noticed the problem as early as we did.”
The $200,000 tab was picked up by the university’s contingency fund, which is factored into the school’s budget each year for instances like these, Taylor said.
According to Stephenson, students living in the apartments started complaining about damp and soggy conditions in their apartments in late June. The mold was found soon after.
Of the students, then living in the apartments, was Caroline Conway, ’04, who was moved to a townhouse for the summer.
“When you walked into my apartment, there was so much moisture in the air that you actually felt drenched,” Conway said. “We knew that this was the beginning of a bigger problem to come.”
Conway, who worked full-time over the summer for the Residence Life Department, was one of the first people to recommend to Stephenson and Laura Cantrell, Associate Director of Residence Life, that something should be done about the excessive moisture in the apartments.
At first, mold was found on the first and second floors so Stephenson decided to move the students upstairs to the third and fourth floors, away from the mold. The university then began to address the problem using Pritchard Industries, Fairfield’s cleaning company.
“The way the first and second floors were cleaned by our crews addressed the problem, originally,” Stephenson said, “But just after the Fourth of July holiday we found mold on all floors of the apartments.”
Conway also mentioned that she and her friend, Becky Post, ’04, who also lived in the apartments, felt sick and had trouble sleeping before they were sent up to the townhouses.
“We didn’t sleep well and we always had that heavy feeling in our chests,” Conway said.
“The mold was sneaky,” Post said. “I would move things and find a spot of mold here and a spot of mold there… I lost a chair, a pair of sandals and a pair of pants as a result of the mold.”
Spores were found in two foot by three foot spots according to Stephenson.
“It looked ‘fuzzy’ and there was a heavy musty smell in the building,” he said.
The building was emptied and another attempt was made to clean the entire complex internally, using Fairfield’s own resources. But it was to no avail, according to Stephenson. The mold kept coming back.
EnviroMed, an outside firm, was called in to rid the buildings of the moisture and humidity, the two major causes of the mold. The entire building was sealed up, and the firm dropped the humidity from above 65 percent down to 35 percent in two days using external dehumidifying units, according to Stephenson.
The spots with mold were cleaned using biocide solutions and HEPA vac technology. Also, an industrial hygienist followed the cleaning crews around to make sure the cleaning was done under strict standards, according to Taylor.
Stephenson said that if the mold was not cleaned completely before the Sept. 1 move-in day, that students would have been told to stay home and classes would have been delayed a couple days.
“There were no surprises during the cleanup so we knew that we would be on schedule,” he said. “If the crews were to come to us and say, ‘Hey, we found a lake under the carpet,’ we knew we would have to come up with a ‘Plan B.’”
Another cause of the mold problem is attributed to the fact that the apartments are under what is called a negative pressure, Stephenson said. This means that air enters the building, but there is no force venting air out of the building. Attempts were made to fix this problem during the cleaning, but the apartment units still run under negative pressure.
To combat the problem of humid, moisture-filled air entering the apartments, all windows have been temporarily locked shut. According to Stephenson, this has been approved by Fairfield University’s Fire Marshal Joe Bouchard and also Fairfield fire department.
However, some students are concerned about the windows being locked.
“The windows being shut doesn’t bother me really because we have air conditioning and can control the temperature,” said Lindsey Peterson, ’04, a resident of the apartments. “However, it does make me a little nervous that if there were to be a fire we may not be able to get out in an emergency.”
Stephenson is not concerned about fire issues because of the many exits that the apartments have and that the building has a fully operational sprinkler system. The windows could be unlocked once the heat is turned on in the building, he said.
Overall, 15 rooms needed to be re-carpeted and the entire first floor was redone as well. The moldy carpets were replaced by carpet squares containing antimicrobial agents to combat mold, according to Taylor.
Stephenson says that talks are on the horizon to make this type of carpets omnipresent in the residence halls.
“We would rather clean up a few spots than end up spending another $200,000 in the future,” said Taylor.
When driving onto campus, returning students and faculty were greeted by a green lawn in front of Alumni Hall instead of the usual tennis courts, as well as a previously abandoned Lessing Field, which was freshly painted and ready for the soccer team.
This weekend kicked off the opening of the men and women’s soccer season on the newly renovated Lessing Field. Lessing Field was named after Stephen Lessing, class of 1976, who was a four-year varsity athlete at Fairfield University, playing for its tennis team.
Construction of Lessing Field was supposed to be completed and the soccer teams were to play on the field in the fall of 2002; however, when laying the sod on the field, the company did not do it correctly. The soccer team played one game on the field and the sod began to uproot, so the rest of the season was played on the football field.
Over the summer, the university completed restoring the field to playable conditions, and the soccer teams will play their seasons on the newly renovated Lessing Field.
The field is located next to the residence halls in the quad area, which will hopefully encourage more students to stop by and watch the games.
“The field is in a central location and hopefully this will help get students to come watch. We had a good size audience on Saturday and we really appreciate the support,” stated head coach of the men’s team, Carl Rees.
The women’s soccer coach, Maria Piechocki affirmed that the field was an asset to the team’s game.
“The surface is better for the style of game we want to play,”she said. She also added that the team is ready and excited to begin a new season.
“I am very positive about the upcoming season. We have a big group of seniors and the whole team has been working very hard since preseason in mid-August and they are all very excited and ready to play,” she said.
The tennis courts were moved from in front of Alumni Hall to outside of the Walsh Athletic center. There are arranged three courts side by side in two different rows. This is also a change from the previous courts, as the courts before were set up as six in a row.
The new courts have been used throughout the summer by Fairfield residents, but the tennis squads made their debut last Saturday at the alumni match. Former tennis players had their opinions of the new courts.
“The new setup is definitely better because it is improves the communications between players,” said Kristy Golden, a 2002 graduate of the tennis team.
Taylor Barvoets, ’07, agreed that the new location of the courts was better “It is convenient because it is so close to the locker rooms,” Barvoets said.
However, not all players feel the same way.
“I am not too crazy about the new location of the courts. It is very distracting because of all the athletic teams walking by and talking. I think it could take away from players concentration,” said Alyssa Haddad who graduated last year.
Regardless of the location of the courts, the team is ready and excited to begin a new season on the brand new courts. “We are really excited for this upcoming season, we’ve added a couple of talented freshman to the group and we should be highly competitive within our league. We are also excited for the new courts because they are one of the best facilities in the area,” stated co-captain Erin Reeves, ’04.
The new courts are open for use when there isn’t a scheduled match or practice.
Athletes have mixed reactions to the new series of fitness tests administered at the beginning of the fall season.
According to head Strength and Conditioning coach Mark Spellman, athletes who come back to school out of shape are hurting themselves and their team.
“By being out of shape, they did not do their jobs as athletes over the summer. They all need to be in shape when they return from the summer,” Spellman said.
Although the philosophy behind the new workouts is meant to be beneficial to each athlete, many athletes, particularly females, feel uncomfortable with the new policy.
Many athletes felt uncomfortable having their body fat tested and performing each test in front of athletes of the opposite gender.
Tennis player Lindsay Pease, ’05 felt uncomfortable with the testing at first, but felt relaxed knowing that everyone on her team had to do the same things.
“It was a little weird at first, having Spellman grab your stomach in front of your teammates, but everyone has to do it so you just suck it up and realize its part of the game. Doing this all in front of the boy’s tennis team is something I’m not used to, but they had to do the same thing, and they don’t care,” Pease said.
Unlike Pease, tennis player Kevin Nyarady, ’05 felt completely comfortable with the testing from the beginning, and thought it was a great idea on Spellman’s part.
“I thought the test was 110% beneficial, and 110% appropriate. I didn’t’ feel self-conscious at all,” Nyarady said.
“I thought it was a joke at first,” said cross country runner,Justin Rindos, ’06, “but I see how it is relevant.
This year, Spellman designed a fitness test to see how in or out of shape each athlete is. The program tests strength, endurance, and body fat percentage. The tests run two hours long and are completed by each athlete in the beginning of the season.
“This new policy allows me and the coaches to see where each athlete is when they return for the first time from the summer. I test each team twice a semester. This allows athletes to set goals and see their own gains,” said Spellman.
Each team has a different test, but every team is required to have a weigh-in and each team member is to get his/her body fat measured.
“The testing allows me to see where each athlete is, and create a specific conditioning program for each sport. Each athlete needs to get in shape for the season,” added Spellman.
Athletes who do poorly in the test are encouraged to do extra fitness and training with Spellman throughout the season.
“Depending on each team, some coaches set a baseline for where their team needs to be at fitness wise. If someone on that team does poorly, they are strongly encouraged by myself and the coach to do some more work with me throughout the season,” Spellman said.
Coaches agree that some of the aspects of the testing may be uncomfortable for athletes.
“I like to think of a team as a family. We should be comfortable enough to share that information with each other. The test is not meant to cut people based on their body fat percentage or weight. It is meant to find what areas people need work in,” said head men’s and women’s tennis coach Jeff Wyshner.
“It can help me and Mark design our conditioning program. If we see people in the wrong side of certain areas, it is beneficial because we know what to work on,” he added.
I remember awaking sharply on Sept. 11, 2001 to the shrill ring of the telephone by my bedside. My brother Jeff, then a sophomore at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY was on the phone: “Jess! Turn on the news! The World Trade Center has been attacked!”
I instantly leapt out of bed, almost smacking my forehead on the bunk bed that hung over me. With the blurriness of sleep still evident in my eyes, I stumbled and turned on the television. Every channel on the television flickered with horrible colors of orange and red flames mixed with thick gray smoke.
I watched in terror as the two skyscrapers tumbled to the ground one by one. My head sank to my hands as I trembled with the thoughts of my father and my uncle.
My father, who worked in the city, did not go into work that day-an act of fate that I am forever thankful for. My uncle Robert Miller, however, worked on the 87th floor in Tower II. After the first attack, he attempted to exit. Without even knowing what was to come, he phoned his wife and was connected to voicemail.
“Something has hit Tower I. They think it’s a small plane,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’m okay, and I’m leaving the building. Gotta go.” Robert, however, never did make it out, and to this day, his remains have not been identified.
I remember tears dripping down my face as I waited for a phone call saying, “They’ve found him! He’s alive!” That phone call never came, and prayers and support from my friends and family were the only things I could count on to keep me strong.
Remaining close with my family, we cried and held each other tighter than we ever had before. The grieving process did not seem like it would end. The bond between family and friends continues to grow immensely, as it is unfortunate that death is often a reminder of how thankful one must be to be alive and to be healthy.
The events of Sept. 11 have affected everyone directly or indirectly, and the physical and emotional supports of our communities empowered us as a nation to move forward and to reach towards a brighter future.
President Bush addressed the nation on the night of Sept. 11, 2001 in response to the tragedies, and his words have stuck with me. “Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts…Freedom itself was attacked this morning by faceless cowards, and freedom will be defended,” Bush said.
Freedom to this day continues to be defended, as our soldiers fight abroad to preserve that freedom – acts of heroism that do not go unnoticed nor without amplitudes of national appreciation. The second anniversary has approached, and emotions of sadness and anger struggle with the powers of admiration and gratitude.
When I think of heroism and bravery, I think of our stronghold in the military, our valiant police officers and our courageous fire fighters, as well as my warmhearted uncle and all those killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. I think about the families torn and the children without parents. Shattered and broken, we can overcome the terror and sadness we feel.
Everything happens for a reason. Illness, injury, love, loss, and moments of true greatness or stupidity all occur to test us. Our experiences create who we are, and we learn from all of them. These past two years have taught me that no matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life goes on, and it will be better tomorrow.
We must live everyday to its fullest, and appreciate every moment. As easy as it is to wipe away our tears, there is nothing that can wash away the memories we hold inside. For those that I lost – my uncle, my friends’ parents – and for those of whom I do not know personally – they are my heroes…they keep me strong, and they will be remembered forever in my mind and heart.
~In remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001 – We will never forget. God Bless America.~
Be sure to look for more September 11 commentary in Online Exclusives.
Fairfield always seems to have little surprises waiting for me in my mailbox over the summer. This year I was socked with a $65 “room damage” fine. When I spoke to several friends of mine the bills were almost as high as mine.
The bill itself comes as a nice tidy figure with zero explanation. If you want an itemized bill you need to email the housing department. So, having a little time on my lunch break at work I telephoned housing only to get the run-around by a representative there.
When I asked why the costs were so high they responded that they had nothing to do with it, but rather that Pritchard, the campus cleaning company, sets the rates and they just go along with it. Gary Stevenson, the head of housing, was on a two week vacation and therefore unavailable. So, while I waited for him I asked that an itemized bill be sent.
When the bill arrived it turned out I was charged $25 for a “dirty” microfridge exterior, $25 for a “dirty” microfridge interior and another $15 for an “extremely dirty floor.” I plead not guilty on all counts. (As for the floor, I would like to thank the extremely diligent RA for noticing and helping correct this terrible and potentially dangerous situation.)
The first thing about these charges is that they are completely out of the range one would expect. Salaries for janitorial personal are pegged at hourly rates far lower than the scant amount of time it must have taken them to clean the exterior of a microfridge.
If the school indeed makes no profit off cleaning fees, as they stated to me, than it would certainly be in their best interest to negotiate a better contract for their true customers-the students.
All of this is troubling enough, without taking into account what happened to a friend of mine when she moved in.
I was a witness first-hand to the wretched state her dorm room was in. Her parents and she had to clean the place from top-to-bottom after having spent over three hours driving to Fairfield.
There was a drippy substance on one of the walls and there was a dead bug on the floor. Obviously, whatever cleaning is done at year’s end didn’t quite make it to her room. And to add insult to injury, she was socked with a hefty cleaning bill last year too. Frankly, she is the most fastidious person I know.
Fairfield University is just about the worst landlord I can imagine. Hitting students and parents with high cleaning bills is a real travesty. Many are on very fixed incomes and thus cannot really afford the extra cost of having to have their microfridge scrubbed by professionals because their meager attempt wasn’t enough.
Students deserve more honesty from the University. The university should mail damage bills with details included. Make officials available when they will be needed most. Most of all, don’t enter into contracts that embitter students and provide absolutely no value to you.