Paul Morton, an information specialist at Mashburn Library, recalls the lively personality of one of his close friends from work. He was one of those people who would light up when he walked into a crowded room.
Morton remembers that light in him disappearing after he lost his daughter. She had graduated from Boston College and was on her way back home on the second plane that hit the South Tower in the World Trade Center.
“She… just evaporated,” Morton said. “Almost 3,000 people just evaporated.”
The family members and loved ones of the Sept. 11, 2001 victims gathered under the white oak trees at the World Trade Center site in New York City on Tuesday to pay tribute to those who lost their lives 17 years ago.
The names of the 2,983 people who were killed in the 2001 World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93 attacks, as well as those killed in the Feb. 26, 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center are read aloud annually on the anniversary of the tragedy.
While it is evident that the 2001 attacks are of heavy importance, many students at APU who belong to the millennial generation feel detached from the way the attack has been engraved into American history.
Hannah Davis, a junior journalism major, feels that millennials have pushed the attacks out of discussion. In her classes on Tuesday, Davis said only one professor brought up the topic during lecture and felt it was not enough to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks.
Jonathan Damiani, a professor of psychology, feels that it is important to have conversations with his students about things that are culturally significant and traumatic.
“Those people who committed this act of terror did so because they believed in something,” Damiani said. “It’s scary to think that someone could believe in something so deeply that they would kill themselves and thousands of others––yet they did, and there is an entire political and religious system behind them fueling their beliefs.”
Looking back at the impact the Sept. 11 attacks have made, Damiani said one of the more tragic reactions is the way white America treats people of different ethnic backgrounds, especially people from Arabic and Middle Eastern countries.
“It’s equally sad how American Christians have begun to demonize Islam as a whole,” Damiani said.
A recent executive order by the Trump administration prohibits citizens from five Muslim-majority countries, Venezuela, and North Korea from entering the United States. As the ban remains in effect, its consequences are evident by the number of students allowed to study in the United States from the blacklisted countries.
In 2015-16, more than 12,000 Iranians studied in the United States, according to the Institute of International Education. Only 189 student visas were issued to applicants from Iran in the first three months of 2018, according to the Department of State’s non-immigrant visa issuance statistics.
Jim Willis, a professor in the department of communication studies, said he understands the need for stronger security measures, but feels the current administration has made it unfair for those who are facing danger in their own countries.
Many students and APU faculty feel that exclusion of people of other ethnicities and races has grown as a response to the 9/11 attacks.
Davis said although there are a lot of safe spaces for people to go to on campus such as the Latin American Student Association and Black Student Association, she would like to see more diversity in the student body.
“You have to get past the politics and the rhetoric and the fear-mongering,” Willis said. “But is the answer to shut the door on everybody? That’s not what America is about. We cannot continue living in fear.”