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Students come to terms with Tuesday’s terrorist attacks and return to classes.

Freshmen Pooja Parikh and Jennifer Clarke didn?t get much sleep Tuesday night.

?We just stared at the TV,? Clarke said.

?I still can?t believe it,? said Parikh, who is from New Jersey. ?(The Twin Towers) are what symbolize New York. To go back now and not see it there ? it just won?t be the same.?

The two roommates said Tuesday?s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the fourth hijacked plane that crashed in Pittsburgh has left them speechless and afraid.

?We?ve lost our sense of comfort,? Parikh said.

?I didn?t want to leave my dorm today to go to class,? said Clarke on Wednesday.

And the campus atmosphere Wednesday showed that Clarke wasn?t alone.

?It was pretty quiet,? said Sgt. David Millich of the University Police. ?There was a lot less student traffic. A lot less vehicle traffic.?

Millich said UP officers are patrolling on 12-hour shifts, the same as they would during a hurricane, through the weekend. The Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough Sheriff?s Office are driving around campus too, he said.

For juniors Lea Anne Wooten and Renee Genovese, the concern for students was one of mental stability.

Wooten and Genovese spent the early hours of Wednesday evening drawing American flags onto sheets of white construction paper and writing ?God Bless America? on them.

?It?s to let everybody know America is going to stay united ? it?s going to take a lot more (than the terrorist attacks) to stop us from functioning,? Genovese said.

She said it was tough concentrating on school work with details of the terrorist attacks unfolding throughout the night Tuesday.

?I couldn?t get any studying done. I?d turn the TV off. But it was still disturbing,? Genovese said.

Wooten said her classmates were distracted by details of the terrorist attacks as well. Yet in one of her education classes Wednesday, she said the teacher continued with class as usual, discussing research methods.

?You could tell no one wanted to be there (in class),? Wooten said. ?We all wanted to talk about it. But no one wanted to be the first to speak up.?

For junior Ula Armashi, class discussions were also a concern ? one that was personal.

?We (Muslims) were advised not to expose ourselves to any kind of harassment,? she said. ?So I stayed home.?

Armashi said area Muslim leaders didn?t want Muslims at USF to be insulted or implicated in Tuesday?s attacks.

After going to Florida Blood Services Wednesday, Armashi said she was more relaxed.

?I didn?t feel that uncomfortable,? she said. ?But now I?m much more aware of (people watching me). I?m much more paranoid. I wonder if people look at me when I?m driving down the road.?

Rumors on campus Wednesday were that riots had ensued on campus and Muslims were celebrating.

?I think the rumors are getting out of hand,? said Provost S. David Stamps.

UP Sgt. Mike Klingebiel said, ?I?ve been inundated with calls condemning USF. I have no idea what would have started (the rumors). UP did check out the rumor, but nothing came of it.?

Denise Darby, manager of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center?s information desk, said the university has been compassionate during this time of grief and that students are concerned about one another.

?Students have been very patient,? she said. ?For my generation, it was the (President John F.) Kennedy assassination. For the generation under me, it was the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. And now, when this generation looks back and thinks, ?Where was I ?,? it will be this.?

For Clarke, there was one thing Wednesday she said gave her courage to leave her dorm and return to class after Tuesday?s tragic events.

She said, ?The sun rose.?

Contact Kevin Grahamat