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Genshaft assures students of safety

Senior Mark Hassan said the television images of Palestinians celebrating in the Middle East Tuesday were disturbing.

?I was full of a lot of anger,? he told President Judy Genshaft.

Hassan said he didn?t fully understand the terrorist attacks that occurred Tuesday in New York and Washington D.C.

Palestinian relations in the United States have always been tense due to U.S. support of Israel. With the celebrations in Palestine, Hassan wasn?t sure of their implication.

But he wanted to make sure the racial climate on USF?s campus remained peaceful.

Genshaft assured him it would.

?College campuses are the place where if anything, there is respect for everyone,? Genshaft said. ?Students that came from the Middle East were not at fault for what happened. They have all the right to be here as any of us.?

Hassan?s residence hall was one of several places Genshaft visited Tuesday evening. She spent time telling students that classes would resume today and asking about their families ? whether they had any in New York or Washington D.C. ? and if the day?s events had left them with concerns about their safety at USF.

?Never has the U.S. been attacked like this,? Genshaft told about 70 students in Delta Hall. ?Hopefully, you feel safe on campus. Just look out for one another.?

Genshaft said University Police increased security on campus, and students would be able to get an escort to and from classes, by dialing 974-SAFE, if they felt uncomfortable.

Student body president Mike Griffin was with Genshaft during her campus tour. His message was that the campus should remain unified during this time of terror and not point fingers.

?No one on this campus had anything to do with what went on today,? he said. ?We need to stay together. We need each other.?

Junior Mary Alice Groves agreed.

?We don?t know exactly who this enemy is,? she said. ?So I don?t think it?s a reason to stop (working and going to school). We shouldn?t let that fear stop us. And I?m glad the school is supporting me in that.?

Genshaft said that students had not overreacted to the news Tuesday. And those who had family in New York and Washington, D.C. began to relax more once they spoke with their loved ones.

?No one is in a panic situation,? Genshaft said. ?I think it?s almost too early to tell (what the impact of the terrorist attacks will be). Everyone seems to be still processing it now. I think there will be a lot of discussion on campus about his. I certainly hope so.?

Freshmen Poorita Singh and Mujiba Ansari both have family in Washington, D.C. They said their loved ones were OK, and they no longer worried about their safety.

The reason they continued watching the unfolding story while eating Tuesday: ?(The television) is right in front of me,? Singh said.

Freshman Joey Lampert was also happy Genshaft took time to speak with students and listen to their concerns.

He waved the president to his table in Crossroads when she went to the café to speak with students eating dinner.

?I chose this school because she was in the Bookstore (when I visited USF), and she came and talked to me,? Lampert said. ?I figured if the university president can spend 10 to 15 minutes with me, the faculty here must be the same way.?

Freshman Jill Flores also thought highly of Genshaft?s visits.

?That?s one of the nice things about this school ? even though it?s so big, people take time to talk to you.?

Contact Kevin Grahamat