Students Shocked By Terrorist Attacks

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Watch Video of the Tower attack Realplayer required. Video courtesy of ABC.

Shock swept through the University of Utah Tuesday, as news of the hijacked planes that crashed in New York City and Washington, D.C., came streaming over TV and radio stations.

Multiple professors canceled classes as hundreds of students crowded around television sets throughout the Union, Marriott Library and all over campus.

Despite all of the activity, U President Bernie Machen said the campus would remain open unless President Bush ordered otherwise.

Administrators gathered in the Park Building early in the morning to organize counseling centers. Three crisis areas popped up on campus by early afternoon to help those students who were traumatized by the terrorist attacks. The Counseling Center expects to continue the efforts today.

Students, faculty and staff went in droves to the ARUP offices in Research Park to donate blood for those injured in the attacks.

Early Tuesday, at roughly 6 a.m. Utah time, two planes crashed into the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers. Those buildings, at least partially collapsed an hour later. One nearby building fell later in the day, damaged by the falling debris from the two 100-plus story towers.

A plane hit the Pentagon, collapsing one side. Another went down in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Federal Aviation Administration shut down all air traffic throughout the country until at least noon tomorrow.

Government officials are looking at multiple terrorist organizations, with most of the attention being paid to Osama bin Laden, while politicians make comments like ?the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.?

?This is the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,? said Fred Esplin, vice president for university relations.

Many students were scared after seeing the video footage.

?This is absolutely terrible. For the first time, I don?t feel secure about the country. There is no control,? said Nate Freeman, a U student studying international business.

?I?m seriously freaking out. I am scared there is going to be a nuclear war,? said Sharon Zeckser, a U junior. ?They say one of the flights is out of Boston, and that scares me because that is where my family lives. My family could have been on that flight. We just don?t know how this is going to end.?

New York and Washington officials have yet to release the number of injuries and deaths as a result of the terrorist attacks, but estimates have the death toll well above 20,000.

?I have a classmate who works for a mutual fund company at one of the [World Trade Center] towers. I wonder what happened to him. I am scared for his safety,? said Tongshu Ma, an assistant professor of finance.

Steve Rahimzadeh, a construction worker on campus with Iranian heritage, said, ?Every time something like this happens, like Oklahoma City, I?m targeted.

?On the one hand, I?m praying it?s not Middle Eastern, but I think [Osama] bin Laden is behind this, and not an American. I hope [President] Bush pulls a Reagan and goes after them.?

Through the anger and shock that came with seeing the Pentagon and World Trade Center towers consumed by smoke, many remembered the victims.

?My thoughts and prayers are with those whose family and friends are directly affected by this terrible series of events.,? Machen said.

As a show of support for those victims, the Associated Students of the University of Utah, in conjunction with the Dean of Students Office, is planning a candlelight vigil for Thursday night at 8 p.m. on the Park Building steps.

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