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UA prepares to help students with grief

Headline Photo
BEN DAVIDOFF/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Omar Shahin, front, the director and Imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson, joins other mourners in prayer last night on the UA mall at a "Unity Rally" prompted by the nation's recent terrorist crisis.

Arek Sarkissian II

Thursday September 13, 2001

A scheduled discussion on racial profiling to be hosted by TPD Chief Richard Miranda was cancelled yesterday due to tensions from Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Instead, about 40 students and University of Arizona officials met at the Chicano-Hispanic Student Affairs Center to discuss the grief the attacks instilled on campus.

Alexis Hernandez, associate dean of students, said at the discussion that two incidents were reported regarding people yelling racial slurs at individuals outside of the Islamic Center of Tucson.

UAPD did take note of the incidents, and as of yesterday afternoon, no other incidents had been reported.

Hernandez also said that the Wall of Expression on the UA Mall was a safe way for students to express their emotions. Hundreds of students have written comments on the wall, and two more panels were added yesterday, bringing the total number to 10.

"We want to find a way for the campus to express how they feel in a safe manner," he said.

He said the comments on the wall express a wide variety of emotions and viewpoints, all of which have some value.

"There might be some things written on that wall which may be something not everyone agrees with, but we'd really like to see how all people are feeling," he said. "The idea of a university is knowledge based on ideas - any issue will have different ideas and perspectives."

The panel also said UA officials are examining other avenues of expression students can take to deal with their feelings.

"We're working on an idea for students to express themselves through painting, music or dance," Hernandez said.

An e-mail from provost George Davis also encouraged instructors to allow students to speak out in class about the attack. Some classes were cancelled, but university President Peter Likins left that decision to the discretion of the instructors.

To help students who want more information about the attack or want to express their feelings to someone, officials set up a temporary information center in the lounge across from the Cactus Grill in the Student Union Memorial Center.

"A lot of people have been asking questions (about) what they could do to help," said Brian Keintz, assistant director of Arizona Student Unions.

Keintz said the flow of students into the information center has been steady, and that people have tended to come in groups.

"The preferred thing people want to do is isolate when they're grieving, but it's not healthy," he said.

He said people who are feeling any emotion should speak with someone. He said keeping the emotion inside hampers the process of healing after a tragedy.

Although other smaller information centers are located around campus, students wishing to speak to a trained counselor about dealing with grief are asked to go to the second floor of campus health.

Any other information on updates involving the terrorist attacks can call the Dean of Students office at 621-8046 or visit the university Web site. The information center will be open today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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