That the university community was spared disaster as the doomed pilot of the Cessna 210-L managed to point the plane into the small field between the Graduate Living Center dormitories and the UR Medical Center parking lot at rush hour is a given.
That the crash elicited so little talk among students and administration on campus, though, is worth note. When something as anomalous as a plane crash occurs in our backyard, one would expect the community to take notice, but the crash failed to capture the attention of the school.
“It was just low key,” said sophomore Sona Rai. “Many people don’t have TVs on campus and the CT didn’t come out that day, so there wasn’t much access [to information],” she said.
Many felt the talk was subdued at best. “I was very surprised that there was so little reaction,” said junior Lucas McCarthy.
Since the crash occurred a fair walk from main campus, many students were in the dark about the tragedy. The university did not issue any statement to students.
“They didn’t send out an e-mail ? nothing was posted,” said sophomore Lora DelPonte. “The campus didn’t acknowledge it in any way.”
Freshman Rebecca Kowaloff agreed. “The school should somehow have recognized the event and explained it more,” she said.
General Secretary and Vice President Paul Burgett emphasized that it was a horrible tragedy for the family of the pilot, but the fact that no one was injured or killed on the ground decreased its significance to students. “It was not as compelling an issue as if it had landed on the Eastman Quad,” he said.
Though local news coverage bordered on the excessive and sensational, many UR students were not fazed by the event.
“I don’t think we should be scared because it’s not any more likely to happen again,” GLC resident and sophomore Rebecca Baier said. “There isn’t anything we can do to prevent it.”
For McCarthy, it was a reminder “that we’re so close to an airport,” he said.
In the eyes of Psychology professor Richard Ryan, there was quite a bit of talk on campus. “The day after it happened virtually every meeting and class I was in began with a discussion of it. So it was my impression that it was salient,” he said.
He conceded that the conversations were brief, however. “This is not the kind of tragedy where there is ‘something to do’, or where any control can be exerted, nor is there an issue or controversy involved,” he said.
Nevertheless, one still must wonder if the restrained interest in this story was the result of apathy?a problem many, including Ryan, feel is pervading college campuses today.
It is a commonly held notion that college students live in their own worlds and the fact that this tragedy came so close to penetrating it and yet produced so little talk is testament to that?”We live in a bubble,” Rai said.