Yale students are busy.
We join clubs, sports teams and a cappella groups, we do research and, of course, we have our classes and the readings, essays and problem sets that come with them. We love to stay busy. That is how most of us got here, and it is how we succeed here.
Of course, staying busy has its downsides. And on Sunday, one of these downsides manifested itself clearly: Yale somehow failed to adequately observe the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
As a freshman last year, I do not think I realized that it was 9/11 until about 8:30 p.m. I had finished my first Directed Studies paper at 3 a.m., slept until lecture, eaten lunch, gone to the final day of club soccer tryouts and eaten dinner, all before hearing someone say “9/11” aloud.
Looking back now, I realize that I was not the only one. It probably did not help that this year 9/11 fell on a Sunday, a day used by many to recuperate after long Saturday nights and to complete readings and problem set. Even so, by the end of the day I was astonished by how few Yalies, including my close friends, mentioned 9/11 without me bringing it up first. When prompted, however, everyone had a lot to say.
We live two hours away from Manhattan, yet there were almost no events on campus dedicated to the worst terrorist attack ever carried out on U.S. soil. Yale is blessed to have many great speakers and lecturers, but where were they on Sunday? Aside from a sparsely attended memorial service yesterday morning, Yale provided little in the way of institutional recognition for this date and all that it represents.
That’s not to say that we don’t bear some responsibility as students to take time to remember 9/11. Perhaps that September morning has faded from our consciousness with the passing years. Yet 9/11 brought about unprecedented disruption, and we dishonor its memory when we cannot be bothered to disrupt our own busy lives even for a moment. On that September day, Americans responded by coming together as a family. They looked out for their neighbors. They allowed themselves to feel, to love.
Some Yalies, including me, were fortunate to have lost no family members or friends that day. Others waited nervously as their parents and friends desperately made their way to the exits of the twin towers. And still others lost loved ones they will never get back.
No matter which category you find yourself in, I challenge you to not fall into the same “too busy” trap next year. I challenge you to remember and learn the stories of those who passed, to spend time discussing the day’s impact with your friends and family. I challenge you to allow yourself to feel, really feel, as you take a break from your schoolwork and clubs for one day.
The administration could also promote a bit more awareness on campus as days such as 9/11 approach. As an example, President Salovey never mentioned 9/11 in his “Notes from Woodbridge Hall” this year or last.
But remembering 9/11 at Yale won’t happen unless students step up to the plate. We must demand speakers, films, discussion and other avenues of remembrance. If we do not take measures to remember and reflect on the events of that horrific day, how can we expect those who follow in our footsteps at Yale to do so?
Michael Glick is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .