I haven’t been impressed by the way the University has handled many things.

The morning of Sept. 11 I was shocked when I heard classes hadn’t been cancelled.

By 11 a.m. I was on the phone with the chancellor to find out why.

I spoke to our president and the provost. I couldn’t believe their insensitivity.

I thought it was yet another example of poor decision making by those who are supposed to look out for the students’ best interests.

When I heard there was going to be a vigil that night on the Gorham campus I was still skeptical. Then another vigil followed the next day in Portland.

The president’s assistant called me throughout the week with updates on what the University was doing to help students grapple with the tragedy. Special counseling. Discussion groups. More vigils. Bulletin boards.

My attitude began to change.

I spoke to the police chief, people in student life, the Multicultural Center, the director of International Programs.

Everybody was busy.

USM Police Chief Lisa Beecher was so busy the day of the attack she didn’t have time to find out if her only brother was alive.

I realized a lot of people spent a lot of time looking out for the best interests of students.

And despite a solid history of being apathetic, the students responded.

Students from both campuses packed into the vigils like no event I’ve ever seen.

They wrote letters to the editor. They made ribbons. They gave blood. They went to New York. At last week’s teach-in there wasn’t enough space for everyone who showed up.

I don’t say it very often, but I’m proud of my University.

The attacks brought out the best in a lot of people.

Let’s hope in the future it won’t take a tragedy for the students to care about their school or to remind the administration they’re here for the students.


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