Afternoon classes at all UW-System schools are cancelled Friday afternoon in response to President Bush’s designation of Friday as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack.
A proclamation by Bush Thursday asked the nation to put the day on hold during the noon hour.
“I ask that the people of the United States and places of worship mark this [day] . . . with noontime memorial services, the ringing of bells and evening candlelight remembrance vigils,” Bush said.
National services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time.
UW-Madison responded accordingly, planning a massive service on Library Mall and canceling the remainder of the classes, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The service will be co-hosted by UW and the Dane County Board of Supervisors.
“It is important that we as a university — both students and staff — pause to reflect on what has happened in our country this week,” UW System President Katharine Lyall said.
The remembrance ceremony will feature a host of student, faculty and administrative speakers, as well as music performances and a moment of silence for the thousands estimated killed in the tragedies.
UW Communications Assistant Vice President Kevin Boatright said administrators decided to cancel classes for the remainder of the day rather than for only the hour of the remembrance ceremony.
“The sense was that for classes to be cancelled only over the noon hour would not be enough,” Boatright said. “This might also give some students the opportunity to leave for home a little early.”
UW Interim Provost Gary Sandefur, who will speak during Friday’s ceremonies, said the school will not cancel classes for the entire day because UW did not have time to organize a full day’s events.
“It was a little difficult to try and put something together for the entire day,” Sandefur said.
Sandefur is standing in for Chancellor John Wiley, who is still stranded in California.
“We’re going to continue with the schedule as best we can, but we really do think the best thing is to keep university offices open and classes going on,” Sandefur said.
Boatright said classes would not have been cancelled at all if it were not for Bush’s announcement. Both the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the University of California-Berkeley will continue their morning and afternoon classes despite the noon-hour ceremonies.
“In the president’s proclamation, there is a special suggestion for the noon hour,” Boatright said. “We want to follow that suggestion. For that reason the feeling was that classes could be held in the morning.”
The university has spent the week offering counseling and solace to the many students who may have lost friends or family in the incident. The school has 502 students enrolled from New York.
Bob McGrath, director of the Counseling and Consultation Services, 905 University Ave., said with each day the number of students requesting the school’s counseling services goes up.
“Today we’re seeing a few more people that were clearly directly affected,” McGrath said. “We’re experiencing a steady number of people coming in and calling.”
Sandefur, too, said as the realization of Tuesday’s attacks settle in, more students are leaving campus.
“Some have gone back to the East Coast,” Sandefur said. “We don’t know how many, but we know some have.”
Many UW officials are concerned that students may not know where to turn for help. Some are worried that upset students may be lost in the crowd.
“In a situation like this it’s important to have people to have meaningful conversations with,” said
Katherine Loving, civic engagement coordinator for the University Health Services. “The most important thing is that students not be isolated. In the coming days, we’re going to need to be able to turn to our social networks.”
Lyall also announced the extension of the drop/add date for another week. Students will now be able to drop classes with a full tuition refund until Sept. 21.
“Some students have returned home, and we didn’t want to penalize them for being unable to drop or add classes,” Sandefur said.
For updates and details: