"Different students react differently. All of them have no idea what this means. We're talking literally about kids who have had no contact with war," Rabbi Shay Mintz of the Hillel Center said Tuesday, just hours after the news of the terrorist acts reached UB.
In an effort to calm and comfort students affected by the bombing of the World Trade Center, Mintz, along with all campus religious officials and counseling staff, talked to those who needed emotional support in the Student Union, and in various impromptu counseling centers around both the North and South campuses
Making sure students did not panic in the midst of the crisis was part of the effort of the counseling centers. "People don't know how to cope with this," Mintz said.
However, most students came to the counseling center's headquarters in 210 Student Union in order to contact relatives and friends located in Manhattan where the bulk of the destruction took place. A significant portion of UB's student body lives in or around the New York City area.
By eleven o'clock in the morning, phones had been set up, and counseling officials were on site to help students cope with the tragedy.
Denis Black, vice president of student affairs, helped coordinate the Office of Student Affairs and Student Union officials in order to provide the counseling service for students. Black was in the union to personally help the cause of counselors.
"We've got thousands of students from the area who've been greatly impacted," said Black.
Students worried about their families came to the center for as little as a hug, and as much as emotional sustenance. Support throughout the week is planned at all campus health and counseling offices, and the Union's center will remain open should the need seem pressing enough.
Rabbi Avrohom Gurary, from the Chabad house, also spoke with students at the counseling center, who expressed emotions ranging from fear and sadness to shock and anger. "Who's not angry? At this point, we can only say 'Let's not have it happen again," said Gurary.
The rabbi went on to explain that students at the counseling center were generally shocked. One student, he said, was worried about his father, who was working at the World Trade Center at the time of the attack. Fortunately, his father had left the building before the attack was leveled, and the student was able to contact his father from the counseling center.
A worker at the Student Union Station convenience store, Andy Fiederlein, is from Long Island. While he was listening to Howard Stern on the radio Tuesday morning, Fiederlein was shocked to hear Stern cut into the regular show with news of the bombing. Luckily, he has no family in the city currently.
On the floor of the union, students were scrambling with their cell phones and communicating with friends, with others gathered around campus television sets to learn the latest news.
Jake Sneva, one of many volunteers who were in the union in order to guide ailing students toward emotional help, said, "We're out here making sure our students are okay."
It seems the tragedy of the bombing permeated the spirits of more than those with relatives in the city, however. Mike Zaiter, a junior biology major, is a native of Buffalo. He too suffered through the tragedy of the bombing in his own way.
"It's horrible," said Zaiter. "This is not a thing innocent citizens should go through."
Freshman Evan Pierce was watching television in the Student Union between classes, along with his peers who were all paused in front of the monitor for any new information available around noon.
"It blew my mind," said Pierce. "This morning, I woke up to a picture of a big cloud where the World Trade Center used to be. It's sick."