Community Mourns World Tragedies

More than 100 students gathered on Britton Plaza on Monday, Nov. 16 to commemorate terrorist attacks that took place across the world on Nov. 13

Jules Struck ’19, Associate Managing Editor

The terrorist attacks that struck Beirut, Lebanon and Paris, France on Thursday, Nov. 12 and Friday, Nov. 13 reverberated in Carlisle after the weekend, as members of the Dickinson community hosted a candlelight vigil for victims and have spoken in classes about the ramifications of growing global terror.

At 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, the Center for Service, Spirituality and Social Justice (CS3) held a candlelight vigil on Britton Plaza for many countries around the world that have been affected by atrocities. Over 100 people gathered around the school seal on Britton Plaza to hold candles and share their thoughts and prayers, and to sing songs in remembrance of the victims of the attacks.

Nadia Hajjar ’16 set up the candle display, which consisted of tea candles and flags from Japan, France, Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Lebanon, Kenya and Mexico. CS3 member Marina Butler ’17, who helped Hajjar with the display, said they chose those flags based on countries affected by tragedies that “the media hasn’t really covered.”

Donna Hughes, the director of CS3, opened the vigil with a short statement calling for “people of faith and not of faith” to “come together in solidarity… to remember the lives of those who have died in events around the world.”

Several students shared prayers and poems in a number of different languages, including Amy Isaacson ’18, who recited a poem in Hebrew. The Infernos a capella group sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Titilope Ogunsola ’19 led the attendees in singing “Lean on Me.”

Nastia Khlopina ’18, a member of CS3, said she was “so moved and encouraged by so many people who came. Even in the midst of exams and homework, we can’t not do this,” Khlopina said.

Butler had “hoped there would be more people.”

“It’s very easy to say ‘I have this or that to do,’ but I think when [students not in attendance] look back, they will regret not coming,” Butler said.

In interviews on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 17, Dickinson professors with professional and personal ties to the affected countries shared their reactions to the events.

Associate Professor of French Lucile Duperron recalled the first moment she heard about the attacks in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13.

“I was skyping with my family [who live in France] when the news broke out… I actually was receiving information before people in France, so I was giving them information.” Duperron added.

Associate Professor of French Catherine Beaudry mentioned the reaction to the Paris attacks from Dickinson students abroad.

“The abroad students in Toulouse went to a candlelight vigil held in the Place du Capitole,” she said.

Associate Professor of French and Italian Dominique Laurent said that it has been heartening to see support pouring into Paris and Beirut from across the world.

“It’s very much like 9/11 for the French,” Laurent said. “There are obviously far fewer casualties… but in terms of the emotional, psychological impact it’s very similar.”

Other professors expressed concern for the refugees streaming in to Europe. Duperron is worried about “a possible backlash” against the refugees, noting that the lack of economic growth in France is exacerbating anti-refugee sentiment.

Laurent warns against “falling into the trap of blaming Muslims.”

“Some people… are saying ‘well, it’s the Islamic, Islam is the problem,’ I disagree,” Laurent said. “There are millions of Muslims who are law-abiding, courageous, tolerant people. ISIS wants Muslim people to think ‘the French hate you, the West hates you, therefore you must be with us.’”

Magda Siekert, lecturer in Middle East studies, sees a solution to the attacks in the Middle East through government and politics. “Political settlement is at the heart of this, and without that nothing can grow,” she said, “I like to take a positive view. For once [the countries involved] are all putting their ulterior motives in second place for what needs to be done in Syria.”

She advises that France and the U.S. should not “forget our humanity. Don’t close your doors without thinking. Stay focused on the political process. I look to the young people,” Siekert said, “not to repeat history.”