Volume 96, Issue 8
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

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Looking back on London, post Sept.11

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Although hardly a day has passed over the last year without mention of Sept. 11 in the news, this week – particularly today – marks a time to look back on the aftermath of the attacks on the United States.

The global, political, economic and security implications continue to be examined with excruciating detail in virtually all the mainstream daily press. Here is a local look back at what transpired at Western and in London following the worst terrorist attacks in North American history.

The day of the attacks, the University Community Centre was packed with shocked students watching the events unfold over CNN, broadcasted live through TV Western. Most classes were cancelled. Western and the University Students' Council provided counseling services and the use of phones for worried students. The University Police Department increased its on-campus presence.

The London Airport was closed all day. It accommodated extra planes from Pearson International Airport, which was overburdened following the closing of United States' air space.

Two days following 9/11, Western students and Londoners contributed to a massive blood donation drive and fundraising effort for the victims and their families.

The USC and the UWO Chaplains held a remembrance service in the UCC atrium, attended by hundreds of students, faculty and staff. Religious leaders of various denominations spoke at the service, as well as students representing the Jewish Students' Union and the Muslim Students' Association.

Incidents of harassment against members of London's Muslim community were reported. Problems included vandalism and verbal threats, which took place at malls, elementary and secondary schools, places of employment and downtown London. The were no similar incidents reported on campus.

Bomb threats to Western, London's GM Diesel and London Airport were reported by London Police on Sept. 17. An alert was issued to students, faculty and staff, warning of suspicious packages.

By Sept. 25, London stores reported a huge increase in the purchase of gas masks, as fears of biological or chemical warfare spread.

On Oct. 11, less than a week after the start of US attacks on Afghanistan, several student groups expressed concern. Khurram Khan, president of the MSA, said the attacks on Afghanistan may make North America prone to more terrorism.

Anthrax fears hit Canada on Oct. 15, as a postal outlet received a suspicious package addressed to ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. Those fears continued later in the week, when a section of the fourth floor of the London Health Sciences Centre Victoria campus was closed after someone came into contact with a package containing a white powder.

Several anthrax scares occurred on campus, including one in which a student came into contact with an unknown powdery substance at D.B. Weldon Library. The substance turned out to be concrete dust.


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