Students, members of the faculty, Vice President Paul Burgett and UR President Thomas Jackson all sat in the Interfaith Chapel at the silent vigil on Wednesday after a terrorist hijacking of four planes led to mass destruction in New York City and Washington, D.C.

?I was shocked and dismayed at the sheer magnitude of the horror,? Burgett said.

Death tolls continue to mount as two of the planes crashed into and destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the financial district at southern tip Manhattan.

?I found out early in the morning, I said, ?Is this a joke?? I never thought this could happen. My boyfriend lives in New York and I have there. This is going to change everything,? senior Mary Pagano said.

One could hear a pin drop in the chapel as people sat in silence, prayed, cried and looked up searching for answers from a higher being.

?I was shocked and I came out here just to share concerns and say some prayers,? said sophomore Ryan Aylward.

?It?s all so surreal and surprising. With each new report it got scarier and scarier,? senior Holly Chesebrough said.

Walking around outside, it was obvious that this day was different from others. The noise level on campus was considerably lower.

?It?s a subdued mood I noticed while I was walking. Usually I see cheerful revelry among people walking ? it was somber today,? junior Nate Potter said.

It is still too early to measure the true impact that this incident has had on the university community. UR has a large alumni pool in the metropolitan areas of Washington D.C. and New York City. There is also small number of current university students interning in the areas.

?I didn?t know about the Pentagon until after class,? said junior Karen Jones whose family resides in the Washington D.C. area. ?I was able to call and find out that my father was evacuated out of his building and was safe,? she said.

?The first priority of the university is the students. If it seems that there are going to be a large number of students leaving, plans will be made to deal with those students? education,? Green said.

Green learned of the plane crashes after landing at Greater Rochester International Airport in the morning. He said that the it looked like a scene from ?Independence Day.?

Burgett explained that the first step in such an emergency situation is information gathering and putting together a group of people who can provide it. The next step is making sense of the impact of the events on individuals and the final step is taking action and responding and recognizing the concerns.

?We?re taking it slow, this is the kind of incident that you reevaluate on an hour to hour basis.?

After initially holding morning classes, the River Campus decided to suspend classes in the afternoon for the day. The Simon School of Business decided to continue with its planned orientation and the Eastman School of Music continued with classes for the day.

Burgett explained that Deans of each school would have to make judgement calls, consider and then even reassess them.

?Circumstances are such that we urge sensitivity within the classroom,? Burgett said.

Many students took this opportunity to take action. Outside the Interfaith Chapel, a group of girls from Burton Hall decided to make flyers about a blood drive at the Medical Center and were handing them out to people leaving.

?We all wanted to do something ?we thought may be we could donate blood,? said freshman Rupal Varshneya, one of the girls handing out the flyers urging people to donate.

Mansi Desai can be reached at

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