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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Immediate impact of 9/11 attacks were felt campus-wide, former chancellor says

""I woke up this morning and I thought it was the apocalypse,"" Maddie Greene, then a senior UW-Madison student, told The Daily Cardinal September 11th, 2001.

""As an American it's a bit of an embarrassment that we're this vulnerable,"" Greene said.

As the towers fell and word traveled about what many consider to be the most profound act of terrorism on American soil, the UW-Madison campus came together to support the nation and those impacted by the attacks.

While some students demonstrated their support by waiting up to three hours to donate blood at the local Red Cross to be sent to the East Coast, others gathered on Library Mall for a prayer service.

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Students and administrators alike expressed feelings of shock and confusion after the attacks. Then-chancellor John Wiley said although the attacks occurred across the country, the UW-Madison community felt their impacts.

""We had lots of students there from out east. The effects were definitely very present on campus,"" Wiley said.

Todd Schecter, then a senior at UW-Madison from New York, said his father was serving jury duty two blocks away from the World Trade Center and saw the second plane hit the tower. Schecter said it was strange not being with his family amidst the terror in New York City.

""It's so surreal and very eerie,"" Schecter said. ""I feel kind of weird not being there…watching my city on television in Madison.""

Three days later, administrators cancelled afternoon classes as requested by President George W. Bush. That afternoon, an estimated 20,000 UW-Madison students, staff, faculty and community members flooded Library Mall for a program honoring the victims of the attacks.

Joe Elder, professor of sociology and languages and cultures of Asia, spoke at the event, saying the United States should not react to the attacks with war.

""We can understand that some among us are calling for war, in the belief that a war of retribution will bring us comfort,"" Elder said. ""At times like this we must remember that nothing kills innocent civilians like wars. Let us not kill innocent civilians in an effort to punish those who kill innocent civilians.""

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