In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and during our current war on terrorism, I have stayed quiet. Whether during heated discussion in the dining halls or formal debate in seminar, I have kept my fears and thoughts to myself, something I rarely do.
But a recent article (“Threats still feel distant to Yalies,”10/16) made me realize that I have become a minority in this community, and therefore, maybe it is time I begin to voice my concerns.
For a few unfortunate students, including myself, the threat is not in the future, but a part of our recent past. We have lost friends and family members. We do not have time to worry about bioterrorism; instead, we worry about friends who were orphaned by the events of Sept. 11.
For other Yalies, the current anthrax threat has become the focus in the past few days. A mysterious package caused an evacuation of Morse College, and students like the ones quoted in the aforementioned article are hesitant even to check their mail. But as Yale Daily News reporter Rebecca Dana illustrates, the threat is still distant to most Yalies.
The administration is actively trying to ensure that the threat appears distant. They have become our pseudoparents, convincing us that there is nothing to fear. Professors and guest speakers educate us on every aspect of the current crisis, ranging from the implications of the attack to the concept of political Islam.
In class, professors try to relate every possible topic to the current war in Afghanistan, helping us to understand, perhaps trying to relieve our fears through knowledge. University Secretary Linda Lorimer sends out e-mails persuading us to stay calm. Everything is being done to protect our safety.
But there is nothing Lorimer or University President Richard Levin can say to make me unafraid. How can I not be afraid when my grandfather has been evacuated from his midtown Manhattan office building four times in the last three days?
A distinguished professor’s discussion of current military strategy in Afghanistan hardly assuages my fears. Instead, what sticks out in my mind is a teaching assistant who said, “It’s ok to be afraid. It’s ok to still be sad.”
As blunt and trite as her statement may have been, it was the most comforting statement I have heard in weeks. Few Yalies are capable of showing such blunt emotion and thoughts. We hide behind our intelligence and our thirst for knowledge.
Instead of attending group counseling sessions to discuss our fears and grief, we divide into political factions and debate the current war. But those of us who have been personally affected are not ready to engage in such discussions. As a result, we become isolated.
The administration, professors, staff and students alike cannot forget about those who are still grieving. While trying to calm the hysteria and protect the lives of the Yale community, we must not leave behind those whose lives have already been so profoundly affected. The Yale administration has to actively create an environment that protects the community but still allows room for grief.
I am afraid. I am still sad. And I am sure that I am not alone, even if it feels like I am.
Alyssa Greenwald is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College.