By: Mikala McBride, Staff Writer
Earlier this year, Wofford’s baseball team took a trip to the 9/11 Monument and Museum. Although many of them are too young to actually remember the events on Sept. 11, 2001, they visited in order to gain clarity and pay tribute.
Dean Bigger, however, recalls her whereabouts with clarity. While she began her day unknowingly working in her office, everything completely changed when someone frantically ran in and asked her to turn on a television. She, along with the rest of the world, could not believe their eyes as they watched two planes crash into the World Trade Center. Around campus, Wofford students made futile attempts to do work and attend classes, but almost everyone had their eyes glued to the local television, making calls to their parents and loved ones.
Wofford almost immediately reached out to International Students and those abroad, trying to gain clarity amid such a tragedy. Dean Bigger’s mind was filled with thoughts of “this can’t really be happening” as the world around her changed and reacted to the events.
In particular, the events left everyone confused about how to make the United States a more secure place. The Transportation Security Administration was created, leading to intense security checks in airports and heightened caution of potentially dangerous situations. The events also “made college campuses look at security differently,” says Dean Bigger, as Wofford tried to ensure students would still feel safe walking around campus and going to classes.
These anxieties were not relieved easily; following September 11, Wofford’s campus faced threats toward Muslim students due to heightened fears of terrorists. Dawna Quick and Keating Coleman, News Editor and Senior Writer for Old Gold & Black during this time, wrote that “a student received threatening e-mail and notes were left on dry erase boards.” Although these threats were targeted toward Muslim students, several Hindu students were mistaken as Muslim and also attacked.
“These students learned that even the Wofford bubble is susceptible to religious intolerance and misconceptions,” they wrote. This display of hatred reflected an overall increase of fear around the United States. While enhanced post-September 11th, these types of threats were not restricted to a certain time and place. When Omid Safi came to campus last year to have a discussion on Muslims in America, heightened security was necessary due to mixed reactions regarding his presence on campus. Despite a passing of sixteen years, many people still regard all Muslims as hateful and their uncertainty leads to obvious security concerns.
Wofford, like many other campuses in the United States, is still growing to become more inclusive for all students from all backgrounds. This year, Wofford appointed Demario Watts as new assistant dean of students for diversity and leadership development. As the community grows and expands, Watts will hopefully help us to become more diverse and understanding as a campus, putting an end to hate crimes and discrimination.
Dean Bigger also wishes for students to know that they are welcome to use the chapel in the Main Building and the prayer room that Dr. Robinson created for students who are not Christians.