Friday, September 11, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten

Sept 11, 2001. 9:00 - 11:30, Graduate Student 311, Organic Mechanisms.

We were in Grad Student Organic Mechs. Doc Shawe was mad at us because a few students showed up late, and so he was grilling us individually, calling us out to explain a reaction mechanism. I wasn't on my total A-game, and it showed. I knew about 85% of the questions he asked me directly, and about 65% of the ones he asked others. Fortunately, he wasn't nearly as mad at me as my peers. He was so irritated we weren't all speaking up enough and answering his questions, we took a break "so he could have a more useful conversation with the coffee pot."

After about ten minutes, he came back in the room, we all sat back down, and class resumed. He mentioned "Some weird sh~t going on in New York City, but nothing that affected us. Looked like a building or two caught on fire. Let's get back to it before we waste any more of your or my time." After class was over, a few of us wandered up to his office with some questions about the material. We were trying to do a little "professorial damage control hiney smooching" to please him, admitting we weren't all smart enough to remember it all, and needed his experience & help.

He put FoxNews website up on his screen. This was a normal activity. Doc Shawe is a HUGE Conservative, and hated the University's All-Liberal policy. Often, he'd pull up FoxNews almost out of spite to the mostly Liberal student body. I usually smirked, and grinned at him, knowing he couldn't care less about the news of the day, but simply wanted to annoy other students or staff.

Suddenly, everything about Organic Mechanisms, and the reactions from class, were pointless. All of us in his office fell silent. He hit "refresh" on his IE window a dozen times, and every third or so, the text would change.

Moments later, we were all gathered in a conference room in the Sci building, discussing how in the world we were going to get students focused enough for afternoon undergrad labs, if the college was even going to have afternoon classes.

The college made the executive decision that, if students wanted to go to class, professors would be there. If students chose to not attend afternoon classes, that was alright, too. We had about 75% attendance in my afternoon lab section, students dazed, trying desperately to focus on "the normal life".

I spent the evening in church, who scheduled an emergency blood drive for PA victims & rescue crews. The rest of the time around the blood drive I was in the sanctuary, singing & praying, hoping for something close to normal. Campus activities were slowed to a crawl for nearly a week, students piling up in vans to assist with victim assistance & rescue crew counseling. We were close enough to the PA crash site to do something, and many put their skills to use.

2 comments:

Mrs Mom said...

I am glad that there were so many, close at hand to help out.

And an Amen for your Prof!

Heidi said...

Wow - you really were in the thick of it wernt you! I am glad that you could be there for those people and I am sure you did a great job!

Go Prof. Conservative!!!