Gazing across the Hudson River, everything seems in place. The Empire State building emits its various color combinations of lights, and the Chrysler building sits quietly in the distance. Further downtown, the new Freedom Tower and its infinite antenna complete the iconic New York skyline. It is hard to fathom that 14 years have already passed since the terror of 9/11 devastated not just one city, but an entire nation.
It is interesting to examine the role that Stevens Institute of Technology played on September 11th, 2001. For many, it was just another Tuesday in the beginning of a new school year; students were several weeks into the semester, worrying more about upcoming assignments than national security. Provost Korfiatis was sitting in his office in the Nicoll Lab. For Women’s Soccer Coach Jeff Parker, it was most likely a normal day of preparing for a team practice or game. No one was expecting that the World Trade Towers, symbols of economic power and architectural prestige, would soon be diminished to smoldering rubble.
Stevens and the Hoboken community thankfully had the Hudson River as a protective barrier, but the feelings of anxiety, fear, and sick fascination had no bounds. Dean of Students Ken Nilsen remembered walking into Pierce after the second plane hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower and gazing out the windows to see plumes of black smoke filling the air.
What some may fail to realize is that there were Stevens co-op students working in the city during the attacks. Thankfully, there were no casualties in the enrolled student body. “We were able to account for every student on co-op in Manhattan” said Dean Nilsen.
For the newest members of the Stevens community, September 11th is a faint memory. When asked what he remembers of the 9/11 attacks, freshman computer engineering student Andrew Afflitto could not recall much. “I was pretty young and my parents actually didn’t want me to know what was going on. I had just turned four.”
Time will continue to pass, and new generations will come to know the events of 9/11 only through family members and history books. However, Stevens students have the opportunity to ruminate in the impact of the attack through faculty and administrators who have graciously agreed to share their memories, their fears, and their perspectives on one of the most eventful days in our nation’s history.