In the fallout of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., UB shut down all non-essential operations to provide counseling and support services to its students.
The university quickly established a "NYC/DC Response Center for UB" in Student Union 210, providing access to live television coverage, free telephone service to the affected cities, fax machines, ministers, social-work volunteers and counseling services. The center will remain open and active through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
University officials were doing their best to "provide the support we can because we know there will be a lot of people caught up in this," said Clifford Wilson, associate vice president of student affairs. "We have a large New York City/Long Island contingent of students."
Televisions throughout both the North and South campuses, including residence hall lounges, were turned on and tuned in to national news coverage. TVs in public areas will remain tuned to crash-related broadcasts for the rest of the week.
Counseling and spiritual services were available in the Student Union and the Butler Auditorium on South Campus, said Dennis Black, vice president of student affairs.
The university is also working to help parents contact students. Those who were unable to reach their children were being transferred to the Office of Student Life, which took and delivered messages to students.
Non-essential university personnel were sent home at approximately 12:30 p.m., following the orders of Gov. George E. Pataki. University classes were canceled at the same time to allow students, faculty and staff to seek or provide assistance to those in need.
"Everything that we can do is being done," said Black. "We're trying to help as many people as possible."
Provost Elizabeth Capaldi expressed concern for the university population, noting that "we all have connections, one way or another" to Tuesday's tragedy.
In a statement released to the university community, UB President William R. Greiner expressed his sympathy for attack and their families, urging UB community members to band together:
"Our students, faculty and staff are in pain and shock at this moment; some of us have been very directly affected by today's attacks; all others share in the ongoing horror that the day has brought to this country. Together we stand united as a university community on this day, and together we express our solidarity as Americans and as educators dedicated to bringing an end to unconscionable acts such as these."
Greiner and Black spent part of the day in the Student Union, discussing with students the attacks and their sudden losses.
Counseling sessions were also offered Tuesday night in Lehman Hall in the Governors Residence Halls, the Richmond Locked Lounge in Ellicott, and the third floor of Clement Hall. The sessions provided "a place where students can talk and feel some support from each other, as well," said Kathleen Scott, director of the Counseling Center in Richmond Quad.
"We have an on-call service," said Scott. "If there is an emergency after hours a student or staff member can call the campus police, who will beep me."
After-hours service is always provided by the Counseling Center, but for the next week Scott will personally receive all late-night phone calls.
Prayer vigils were held last night at the Wilkinson Coffee House and St. Joseph's University Church on Main Street.
For more information or to speak with a counselor, call the Counseling Center at 645-INFO (645-6125). Parents concerned about their children can call (716) 645-INFO, or toll free (877) 434-0665. WBFO (88.7 FM) and the UB Web site (http://www.buffalo.edu) will also carry updates on campus programs and events.