Dear President Monaco,
On Sept. 11 you sent out a long email to the entire school going into much detail and covering a wide spectrum of topics about things that have been going on around campus and future plans for our school. What you failed to mention was anything related to the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Somerset, PA.
You weren’t alone in the omission of the recognition of Sept. 11. I looked online on the Tufts Chaplaincy website and looked for either memorial services or any sort of meeting and safe space for those who may want to discuss what happened to our country 13 years ago. I found nothing regarding anything related to these events and was, quite frankly, disappointed and shocked.
As I walked to class in the morning, the American flag on the Academic Quad was not at half-staff — another blatant dismissal of the importance of recognizing and remembering Sept. 11. However, I do recognize that the flag was lowered to half-staff later in the day when I walked past it again. I would like to point out that proper etiquette of national memorials requires the flag to be lowered at sunrise and raised again at sunset.
The purpose of writing this is not a personal attack on you or our school. My aim is to raise the question of why such a devastating and important event in our history — one that has affected all of our lives even to this day — was not even recognized at this institution. Tufts has a long history and affiliation with our military. During the First and Second World Wars, Carmichael Hall was allocated entirely for Navy Midshipmen. We had more than 250 Midshipmen training at Tufts, and by the time that Tufts became a host for the V-12 program in 1943, over 1,000 new students arrived on campus to train for Naval ROTC. By 1944, Tufts had trained and produced an enormous amount of officers, more than any other New England college.
The undergraduate school is not alone in this aspect. We have many high-ranking officers at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. James Stavridis, the current dean of The Fletcher School, is a retired Navy Admiral. We also have an enormous number of alumni that are veterans. Tufts clearly found remembering our service members important enough to build the Memorial Steps, which are inscribed with phrases of remembrance from each war that the school has stood though.
Apart from our school’s affiliation with the military, a large number of our students come from New York City, the Washington, D.C. area and Pennsylvania. I don’t know the numbers, but I know the population is substantial. I imagine that the events of Sept. 11 are very personal to these students, especially. Again, this raises the question of why no one in the administration or Chaplaincy staff recognized the need for resources for our students such as a memorial service.
Tufts often boasts of its active citizenship and interdisciplinary education. I would like to think that we are able to translate that into our actual lives, outside of the academic arena. I would also like to think that the administration would be on our side when we express the need to recognize a major historical event like Sept. 11. It is a matter of respect, recognition and remembrance of those who lost their lives and how the event has affected our country. I won’t be here next year, but I sincerely hope that next year’s students will see the flag fly at half-staff all day, have access to a Memorial Service and at least have our own President recognize the significance of this date.