Professor reflects on the class that required no words … just presence

By Raymond Foery, professor emeritus, film, television, and media arts September 08, 2021

Ray Foery

I had a class that morning that began at 9:30 and ended at 12:15 pm. When I walked into the McMahon Center lobby, I saw that colleagues were gathered around a TV screen.

Something had happened in New York, and it wasn’t clear what.

“A plane has hit the World Trade Center” was all that I heard.

I walked into the classroom — a small screening room that seats only 25 — and greeted my students.

They had not heard anything more than “a plane hit a New York building.”

We were scheduled to watch a film that morning. I cannot now recall which one. Instead, I switched the input to a New York City network (NBC, I believe) and we just sat silently and watched.

No one talked. No one moved.

After the first tower collapsed, a few shocked gasps could be heard.

I told the students that they could leave whenever they wished. Almost no one did. We sat there for two more hours just mesmerized in shock and grief. At about 12:30, I walked out of the dark room and into the lobby.

Fewer people were there now. I walked outside and looked across the Quad at the flagpole. The flag was still flying at full staff.

It would not be like that for another month.

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now