National Emergencies Close to Home for HU Seniors

Every year around this time of year, college seniors naturally reflect on their tenures as students. However, some in Howard University’s Class of 2005 might not like everything they see in those reflections.Howard students who will graduate this May entered the University in August of 2001, a few weeks before terrorists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into targets in Washington, D.C., as well as New York.

A few weeks later, HU students saw their mail service be shut down because most mail coming to the university was processed at the local post office that was hit with anthrax. And then, after a few quite months, several HU students spent the entire month of October 2002, normally a joyous time of celebrating Homecoming, gripped with fear alongside most District residents after a local shooting spree that left more than 10 people dead.

Students had very differing reactions about the affect of those incidents on their college memories. Some, like senior biology major Muhammad Salaam, said that those incidents had a profound affect on them.

“Being in Washington D.C. has made us vulnerable to a lot of things and it wasn’t until then that [many] people realized how close to home it was,” he said. “It wasn’t until people came home to see police tape on the mail boxes that people realized how real anthrax was. It wasn’t until we saw the sniper, that we realized how precious life is and how death can be selected randomly.”

Though no one expects such things to happen when they go away to school, Salaam said that there was a silver lining. “I think it will have a positive affect on our outlook on Howard,” he said.

“Along with dealing with the ‘bureaucracy’ of a prestigious HBCU, we’ve learned to deal with greater national issues as well. After leaving HU, we will be able to cope with problems that we encounter and face them with ease as we partake in the ‘real world’.”

Kimberly Stubbs, a senior sociology major, said that the event that took place during her tenure at Howard touched her as well, even though they didn’t affect her personally.

“These experiences have made life a little bit real for me,” she said. “It has made me thankful and it is definitely one of the memories that I will always keep with me. She said that being a witness to historical events will also benefit her later in life.

“These are stories that you will tell your kids when they come home from school and say mom in school today we talked about 9/11 or the sniper,” she said.

“[They’ll ask] where were you when it happened, like when we asked our grandparents where were they when King was shot or when we asked our parents do they remember when Hank Aaron broke the babes record.”

Some students, like senior physical therapy major Eric Hall, said that the events will not affect there HU memories at all.

“Everyone’s college experience is different and it’s part of [our] experience,” he said. “You choose your college based on what you like. Howard is my dream school. I can’t see myself anywhere else.”