To the Editor:
As I write this, 17 people are being held hostage in a religious studies class at a small, Jesuit university. The sudden infection of our tiny school by the virus of confusion and chaos that runs rampant throughout the world brings to me the startling revelation that nobody is immune.
However, what I feel is the worst part about this most recent calamity is that I found out the news from a friend in New York City while I was standing in front of Xavier Hall at 5:20 p.m. over an hour after the situation began. I drove through campus without any obvious sign of increased security or restriction on campus or at the main entrance. This lack of information or reaction is unsatisfactory and leaves me wondering about the preparation of our school in the face of emergency.
Prior to this spring semester I had lived and worked in Manhattan for the past half-decade. The recent decision to return to school this semeseter was sparked by the September disaster that touched every one. Today I feel that the uneasiness of living in a war zone has invaded the campus that I thought previously impenetrable – the uneasiness that I thought I’d left behind.
Months ago I was standing with countless others in the middle of Fifth Avenue watching the second tower fall before my eyes as I hurried downtown with a friend who feared he lost his father.
I felt helpless as I tried to reach friends and family who worked in and around the WTC fearing the worst.
I worried about my brother, a National Guard Medic, who was instantly deployed to the site to tend the injured rescue workers.
Then I lost my job in the subsequent financial collapse and I couldn’t find new employment in the strangled job market.
So … I moved to Fairfield and went back to school to finish my undergraduate degree and take a breather from the newly precarious rat-race.
Foolishly, I thought this school might be a haven from the seemingly heightened dangers of this world. I made an incorrect assumption that was probably made by most people that would read this: “I’m safe here.”
But what we’ve learned today is that whether the threat is foreign or domestic, shoe bombs or anthrax, we all must come to the realization that we live in a more dangerous world and we must make sure that we are prepared for whatever can and will come our way.
Should parents trust the new custodians who can’t assure the safety of their children to study Theology in a small classroom?
Are we doing all that we can do? What else can or should we do? Can any measures intended for our protection be considered extreme?
Whether or not this latest travesty is considered an anomaly, we clearly must do more and take whatever measures necessary to preserve Fairfield as a haven for those who appreciate the virtues of wisdom and tolerance.
D. Vermillion ’03