Storke Plaza was where people from on and off campus gathered to pay their respects to the terrorists' victims and to show quiet patriotism.
At the time it seemed a casual decision to Adrian and Hilda Wenner, based in part on her sensitivity to noise, but it ended up saving their lives.
On Sept. 11, the UCSB biology professor emeritus and his wife, who were returning from a bee research conference in Maryland, almost took American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles International for LAX. It was the first flight to California and Wenner usually seeks to spend as little time in airports as he can. Instead, they waited 40 minutes more and boarded a United flight to Denver.
Why? Because United has a direct flight in a large airplane from Denver to Santa Barbara, while American uses small, noisy commuter planes for the hop from LAX. On the little planes, Hilda Wenner explained, "My eardrums sometimes feel like they will burst. We decided to stick with United."
Mari-Rae Sopper, UCSB's choice for its new coach of women's gymnastics, was aboard Flight 77, however, when terrorists hijacked it and crashed the plane into the Pentagon. She and geographer Robert LeBlanc, who was flying to a conference at UCSB aboard the United plane that struck the World Trade Center, were among the victims recalled by Chancellor Henry Yang on Sept. 14 during a memorial at Storke Plaza.
Held in conjunction with a national Day of Prayer and Remembrance, the open ceremony drew an estimated 1,200 people from on and off campus. Yang called Sopper "an outstanding young woman," and noted that the welcome barbecue planned by the gymnastics team had been turned into a personal memorial. He also told the assembly, a number of whom held American flags, that the tragedy should reaffirm "America's resolve--to be free, to be tolerant, and to be a leader among nations."
His comments, as well as earlier ones by UC President Richard Atkinson, are available on UCSB's Home Page
While the campus community joined in the mourning, it also pitched in with the national recovery, starting at home. Counseling and Career Services, the Student Health Service, and Human Resources (HR) all helped ensure that counseling was available to students, faculty, and staff members who sought such services. Many donated money and blood to relief agencies; others from the Associated Students and Student Affairs Division have planned a blood drive for Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.
HR Director Cynthia Cronk reminded managers in an e-mail that release time from work may be granted an employee wishing to donate blood. Up to two hours will be considered as "leave with pay," she wrote.
Making information and contacts available, such as those on HR's home page
under Academic and Staff Assistance Program QuickLinks, also helped many. The people at ASAP can be reached at x3318.
Meanwhile, UCSB has received a number of messages of condolence and solidarity. One from Dolores Cabrera Muñoz, chancellor of the University of Queretaro in Mexico, said, "We manifest our repudiation of intolerance and of terrorism, uniting with all others in the world who long for peace."
UCSB's quick return to the rhythms of beginning a new academic year is a sign of determination to restore normalcy to daily life. But most realize that life will never be as it was. For example, the Wenners, who returned home after five days of cancelled flights and waiting, do not plan any more air travel for some time to come.