The Kansas Union normally a gathering for KU students studying and chatting on a weekday morning turned into a vigil hall this morning as students kept watch on terrorist attacks on the East Coast.
Hundreds of hushed students gathered around two TVs at the union. Others gathered across campus.
"It's like the feeling when the Challenger exploded," said Brandy Lancaster, a junior from Springfield, Mo. "It's a feeling of grief everywhere. All we can do is just watch."
Counselors from KU's Counseling and Psychological Services were on hand to talk with students.
"I'm shocked," said Nick Mattingly, a freshman from Overland Park. "Why would someone do that? It's like what did we do to them? All it's going to do is start a bigger fight.
"It made me more mad than shaky. Whoever did this deserves to be punished bad."
Brooke Merrill, a senior from Kansas City, Mo., is a former upstate New York resident.
"It's scary," she said. "It makes me feel glad to live in the Midwest now. It's scary that that can happen."
KU experts on terrorism and international relations warned others not to rush to judgment on the attacks.
"We certainly shouldn't lose our cool," said Felix Moos, an anthropology professor who has taught a class on terrorism for 20 years. "The U.S. is a very resilient country. First, we have to ascertain the damage and ascertain who could be responsible and shape response accordingly. But we shouldn't do that in the next five minutes."
He wasn't surprised by the attacks.
"I'm shocked but not surprised," he said. "We have been teaching a class for some 20 years, and obviously it was only a question of time it would happen in the United States to this extent. It's been happening in other parts of the world for more than a decade. The significant complexity of this kind of warfare has risen recently."
Deborah Gerner, a professor of political science who specializes in U.S. foreign policy and Middle Eastern policies, said she was "horrified" but not surprised by the attack.
But she warned people not to assume a Middle Eastern group is responsible. Similar reports came out following the Oklahoma City bombing.
But if Osama Bin Laden is responsible, she wouldn't be surprised.
"I think we have to be cautious not to rush to judgment, not to assume the favorite suspects are responsible," she said. "The U.S. response needs to focus very directly on who is responsible rather than a generic group of people. If that proves to be the case (that Bin Laden is responsible), we need to resist the temptation to turn against all Muslims."
A group of 46 Self scholars from KU was scheduled to attend orientation in Washington, D.C., tonight. That trip has been canceled.
KU administrators are encouraging professors to hold classes but to discuss the attacks with students. No universitywide cancellation of classes is planned.