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September 17, 2001

Tragedy summons both charity and fear

By Michael Terrazas


Last week’s terrorist attacks brought out both the best of the Emory community’s compassion and the worst of its fears, as students and staff on the one hand worked to put together blood drives to aid the victims and on the other worried about a possible negative backlash against certain ethnic and/or religious groups.

On Sept. 11, the evening of the attacks, American Red Cross offices in Atlanta were overrun with volunteers wanting to donate blood; the Red Cross even had to turn people away because it simply couldn’t handle the volume. By the afternoon of Sept. 12, the Student Government Association had arranged for an emergency blood drive at the P.E. Center on Friday of last week from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Blood donors must wait 56 days between donations, so even if people were unable to donate Friday, they will still be needed throughout the rest of September and October. Follow-ing is a list of blood drives planned in the Emory and Atlanta area:

• Sept. 18, Decatur YMCA, 1100 Clairemont Ave., 3–8 p.m.

• Sept. 19, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (SGA will run shuttles every 45 minutes from the P.E. Center and asks that people show early to account for heavy demand).

• Sept. 25, Crawford Long, noon to 5 p.m.

• Sept. 27, P.E. Center, noon to 5 p.m.

• Sept. 28, Yerkes, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, contact the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the Red Cross at 404-876-3302.

Meanwhile, as students were demonstrating their patriotic sense of altruism, many of those same students were fearing a possible backlash against Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent. As of Thursday afternoon, several incidents of racial and ethnic intolerance had been reported around the country, thankfully none on the Emory campus.

At the interfaith service held at 5 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium the day of the attacks, one of the overriding messages was that of unity. President Bill Chace and Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life Susan Henry-Crowe urged the University community to eschew divisiveness and stereotypes and cling to common threads of humanity. Many on campus believe that message will be received.

“I’m assuring people that I have confidence in the community in which we live and its ability to deal with this and stay away from the backlash that’s taking place in other parts of the country,” said Mahmoud Al-Batal, associate professor of Middle Eastern studies and advisor to the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Students Cultural Association.

Al-Batal, also director of the Emory College Language Center, was speaking the language of reassurance and calm to the students in his charge. He urged them to participate in all the activities on campus such as candlelight vigils, blood drives, etc.

“These are American citizens, and they are struck by the tragedy like every other American student,” Al-Batal said. “I’m sure some of them have relatives or friends who are missing in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, and so the tragedy has affected them the same way it has affected any other American.”

Asim Malik, a sophomore philosophy and Middle Eastern studies major and a member of the Muslim Student Association, said it is not for himself he fears. “I’m more worried about the freshmen,” said Malik, a sophomore advisor for Residence Life. “They get to college for the first time, and two weeks into it they have to deal with this. In particular, we have some foreign students who are new to the country, and I’m a little concerned about their well being.”

Malik said, other than relatively minor insensitive comments, he has not heard of any incidents of intolerance at Emory and hopes things stay that way. “We wanted to do a candlelight vigil [like the one held Sept. 12], but the SGA beat us to it,” he said. “We helped out as much as we could.”


Back to Emory Report September 17, 2001