Pace Student - Class of 2004
Susan: Hi, I’m Sue Smith. I’m a 2004 graduate of Pace um I was at Pace during 9/11.
Cristina: Thanks Sue.
Cristina: Okay, so the beginning of the interview is basically an introduction. What's your background? Um, where did you come from and how did you arrive at Pace?
Susan: My name is Sue Smith, I am from Pennsylvania. Uh, uh north of Pittsburgh, actually kind of by Dean O'Grady, she's from the same, like near the same hometown as me. Um, I came to Pace in 2000 when I was 18 because they offered me the most money and I wanted to be in New York City. Um, I lived in the dorms all four years while I was at Pace. I was an English major and um, I've been done for two years and now I'm working at Vice Magazine.
Cristina: So you said you chose Pace because of, as many of us did, because of financial reasons. Did you apply to other schools in New York City? Did you purposely want to go to school in New York City?
Susan: Yeah. I wanted to be in New York you know, like a lot of people who come here from other places. I wanted to be here because I had dreamt about it for a while, and the whole Broadway ideal and stuff like that so, I applied to Fordham, NYU, Columbia, and Sarah Lawrence in the New York region, and I got in but they were all like super-duper expensive. And I came from a working class family so I couldn't afford it.
Cristina: Okay. Um, what was your time like at Pace? Um, where did you live? What were your classes like? What was your overall experience?
Susan: Pace rocked. I really liked Pace. Um, I, where did I live? Oh yeah, I lived in the dorms all four years. The first year I lived in Maria's Tower. I loved Maria's Tower because I'd never lived in like any other kind of dorm before, so I was like, "yeah Maria's Tower! Great. Cool." And then the second year I lived in the St. George in Brooklyn Heights and then my third and fourth years I lived in Fulton. But like one summer, I think it was between my junior and senior years, I came back and lived in the Towers and I was like so miserable. I was like I can't believe I ever liked this place, this is horrible. But I think it's just because I was young and loved college or whatever. But um, Pace was good. I liked that I had small classes and I knew everybody and all my professors were like brilliant and I took whatever classes I wanted and some of the people were kind of dumb, but that's all. But generally they were cool. I did meet a lot of cool people there that I still keep in touch with.
Cristina: What was the biggest adjustment from living in a small rural town to living in New York City?
Susan: Um, I didn't know what I was in for really, like I had never lived in a metropolitan area before, I never had an experience with it, so I think just the location, getting used to like hustle bustle of everything, all the people and all the things there were to do. It took me probably a good six to eight months to get a grasp on things and to really feel like I wasn't like thrown to the sharks or whatever. That was probably it. Um, yeah, I think that's it.
Cristina: And um, you were also involved at, on campus.
Susan: Oh yeah I was on the student newspaper um, for I joined when I was a sophomore so three years. And the, when I joined I was a writer and then become the news editor and then the editor-in-chief for two years. And that was cool. And then, it was lots of fun. It was a really good experience and it was great, it was cool because it was in New York City and I got to edit a paper and have lots of perks and lots of opportunities that other kids wouldn't have had like politically and entertainment wise. I think um, and then otherwise on campus, I didn't really do anything else.
Cristina: You really couldn't.
Susan: No, you really didn't have time. I tried to do chess club but I think it interfered with the Pace Press.
Cristina: I didn't know we had a chess club.
Susan: We did for like a few months when I was like a sophomore. I wanted to do it. Just cause they were cute boys.
Cristina: That was smart and probably going to be making a lot of money one day.
Susan: Yeah, exactly.
Cristina: So, did you feel like you had a special relationship with administrators and professors because you were involved in campus activities?
Susan: Totally like. Dean O'Grady is awesome. Not to toot her horn, but like two years later, I don't really keep in touch with her, maybe I’ll email her once a year, but like I just went back to campus a couple weeks ago and she saw me and she like remembered my name, gave me a big hug, and I was like, that was rad. You can't get that anywhere else. And then I have a few professors I still keep in touch with, who I'm still pretty close to. I still have Dr. Henthorne's furniture. Because he was going to move and then he, he gave me all his furniture when he was going to move to California and then he didn't so I still have it.
(turns tape recorder off)
Cristina: Moving on, moving on um, so if you could think back, what would you say one of your favorite memories from Pace was? Or instance or even, I don't know.
Susan: Um, well I know that there was one time when I was a junior and like the Pace Press decided they wanted to take a ski trip to Vermont. We were just like, hey, let's take a ski trip, and so we did. And it was really funny. I think we, we rented a bus and we, Diane helped plan it. Diane was this very like high-strung Korean girl, so she planned it, and then there were about 15 or 20 of us, no like 15 of us, who went up and it was just insane. I mean, it was so diverse. I think the diverse mix of people like really added to it. Like, we had Igor who was from Maldova, Ling Sze was from Singapore, Bobbi from wherever, like Trinidad or something? No, Tobago.
Cristina: I know she is from the islands.
Susan: Yeah, yeah. And then Art from California, Diane from Long Island. It was the most diverse group of people ever and we had a blast. Just making fun of everybody like each other, making fun of each other and just like hanging out and like half the people didn't know how to ski and so the other half, and they spent the entire time on the stupid bunny slope, it was hilarious, hilarious. That's one of my best memories I think.
Cristina: Uh, what would you say was the most challenging time at school for you?
Susan: Um, well, I didn't find it very challenging just because the structure of it was, like academically it was so like open and I could do what really suited my needs and like my learning style, but probably what I would say when I was like my last semester was hard. Even though academically it was probably the easiest because I was only taking four classes, um, and like but it was just hard. The only thing I felt like Pace didn't help me with was prepare me for my future because I had no idea what I was going to do, and I just thought like, I literally had no idea. My parents weren't helping me, my parents didn't live in the area but like, I was just clueless. And I stressed out about it probably for six months and then at the end of six months I still didn't know what I was going to do. So, I guess eventually things worked out but I thought wow. I figured, I thought that I could have had more career counseling and more guidance on that end. And I even sought it out and they were just like, "Uh, you're from Dyson, we don't know what to do with you," you know? I went to career counseling but whatever. So that was hard and then, by that time too I was like completely just kind of over doing the school thing. I didn't really feel like studying or writing my thesis or anything like that, or writing any more papers so I really had to push myself. But other than that, that's probably it, I think. And that's minimal. Like that's not a big deal.
Cristina: So, um, I guess I can't think of a better segue way to go into uh, the day, but um. So in September of 2001, where were you living?
Susan: I was living in the St. George which is in Brooklyn Heights and it’s um, like literally two stops from Pace, I think. So it’s right in Brooklyn, right at the tip of Brooklyn. It overlooked the skyline and um, so, do you want me to go into the spiel?
Cristina: Well, were you um, I know a lot of students were disappointed to be over there, did you want to live in Brooklyn Heights?
Susan: I didn't, I didn't at all, but once everything happened on September 11th, I was really glad I did. I was so glad because I think a lot of kids had to go to Westchester for a while, or whatever. So, I was really glad I did after that.
Cristina: Okay, so yeah, I mean in as much detail as possible describe what you were doing even the night before, the day, the day after.
Susan: Oh, oh I was working at the Book Exchange, which was really weird. So, the Book Exchange was this like little group of like Chinese kids who like wanted to exchange their books and sell books for students as opposed to going to the bookstore because they wanted to do this thing whatever and it was cheaper. So I was helping them and they kind of looked at me weird because like I'm not Chinese and they're like, "What? Why do you want to do the Book Exchange?" So I was helping them until really late at night and then I went home, and I was supposed to be up and at the Book Exchange by 8. But like I had been there til late and I think I probably went out or something, and I had been there so late that I didn't wake up at 8. I woke up at like, I think my alarm went off at 8 but I just ignored it, as I still do. But I think I woke up at like a little bit after 9? Maybe that's wrong. I want to say a little bit after 9. But I'm not sure, because that's what time I get up now so maybe that's why I think it's that. But I think it was a little bit after 9 and I heard two really loud thuds. And I was in the back of the building. My window faced a brick wall, so like I had no idea what was happening, I couldn't see the skyline. So I heard two loud thuds and for some reason in my like grogginess I thought my roommate was throwing shoes into her closet because she had a lot of shoes.
Cristina: You heard the thuds one after another or, was it the two planes?
Susan: It was the two planes.
Cristina: Ok, so one thud and then a few minutes, another?
Cristina: Ok, I got it.
Susan: Yeah, one thud and I just ignored it and I was like, oh she's throwing shoes in the closet. And then a couple minutes later I heard a second one. And I was like, that's kind of loud. And so I woke up and I asked her, “What is that?” And she's like, "I don't know." She just totally ignored it. And then, and then my friend Martha called me and she was like, "um, so the Twin Towers are kind of on fire," like those were her words, and I was like, "What?" and she's like, turn on NY1." So I turned on NY1 and I saw the Twin Towers on Fire. And then I kind of looked because I could see a little bit of the skyline over the brick wall. And I saw the smoke coming from the World Trade Center, from the top of the, along the things, and I was like, oh my gosh. So then my RA came in and she, I think wanted to reassure us that everything was going to be okay for some reason. But we were still kind of concerned. Martha and I were like, "Should we go to class? Like are the trains running?" We're still trying to do everything normally because at that point you have no idea. You can't wrap your head around the hugeness of what's happening you know. So we went into her room and she had like a clear view of the skyline and we saw the skyline and we saw just like planes coming from the top and just a plane just like stuck in the side of one of the towers, like, if somebody had thrown it, just stuck in the building, it was so weird. And like, I didn't see anybody jumping out or anything because I think I was too far away, but I just remember the plane it was like on fire. And then Martha and I went downstairs to try to decide what to do and we got donuts because you're still trying to live, you're still trying to do normal things, you know? So we got donuts and we’re like, "well, we might as well go to the Promenade." And the Promenade overlooks the skyline. So we went to the Promenade to see what it was all about and um, there were probably I want to say like a couple of hundred people there at the Promenade too. And we were just standing there like watching the plane in the side of the building, watching the fire come out, it was ridiculous. And then the, one of the towers, I think the one on the right started to crumble, and we were like, "oh my gosh" and it just, the tower just went down. Like it was so surreal. Like it probably took less than 10 seconds. The whole thing collapsed. And we're like, "oh my gosh," like what do you even make of it, you know? And people were crying and screaming and like freaking out. But Martha and I were just kind of like, it hadn't hit us because we're like, maybe I wasn't really aware of the proximity to Pace or anything, but Martha and I just kind of like, we didn't know anyone there and we didn't really know how it was going to affect us. We were like, "Huh. That's weird." So very, very much a delayed reaction. I mean I got, I think for me that was like, I learned a lot about myself and how I deal with stress and things like in that moment because--not in that moment but with that situation--but because so later in life I learned that like I handle things and I get upset about things later. Like post-traumatically or whatever, post-traumatic stress. Because I got so upset like for the next month, but at that moment I was like whatever, okay. And it just didn't hit me, um.
So then Martha and I, Martha didn't want to see the second one fall or something or maybe I didn't want to see the second one fall, we kind of felt like they were. Like I think it was because like once the second one falls, like then what? Then what else is going to fall, then what else is going to happen? Like, how many buildings are going to fall down in our city and like is our school going to be left? Or are more planes coining? So I kind of thought, I definitely, I definitely thought that like that we were still like being attacked or whatever so, I had no idea what was going on. So I went back, we went back to the um, St. George where we lived and um, people from classes, people we knew from Pace were just coming across the bridge and they were just covered in this dust. They looked like ghosts, it was so horrible. And I saw my friend Ria from English class and so we saw her and she like came up to my room and she was completely freaked out. Like she was crying, she didn't know what to do. I think she ended up walking home and she lived in the Bronx and like, so a lot of Pace kids came to St. George so that was cool. So we went in, we watched the news, we saw the other tower fall and it fell exactly the same way as the first one, just crumbled. Like so effortlessly. It was weird. Um, so then Martha and I were like, just like what do you do? You know what I mean, you felt like you needed to do something. So I think we went and gave blood. Wait, did we do that the first day or the second day? I feel like it was the first day. Yeah, we went and no, no, no, we looked for a place to give blood, but at that point it was still too soon and there weren't any places taking blood. There weren't any places accepting blood so, um, that night, after that I think I just spent with that girl Ria because she was so upset and I remember, oh I remember like trying to get a hold of my mom and stuff and I couldn't get through to her and I finally got through to her on a payphone. Like it was weird because every time I call my mom at work, like ever since I was a little kid, I have to leave her a message and she has to call me back but like this one time I was like, this is her daughter in New York it’s an emergency let me talk to her. And they were like, "Ok!" so I got to talk to my mom. Um, but I just told her I was okay, I was in Brooklyn, I was fine. And she I think told everybody else because my cell phone was not working, nobody's was. Like, nobody's cell phone was working, it was so weird. And so weird and so quiet. Everything it just had this stillness, you know? Like the whole city just had this weird stillness.
So after I got a hold of everybody, of my mom and stuff, I think we just kind of went home and like waited and checked our email to find out what to do. Um, there were no classes that day, but we didn't know when we had to go back to class or whatever. The next day Martha and I got up early and we went to wait in line to give blood. And we waited for like two or three hours. And we met a couple people who were nice in line and we talked to them. And it was really cool because like the spirit, of like, it sounds so cheesy, but just the atmosphere was really cool like people were coming up to us in line and it was hot and they were giving us bandanas and water and stuff just like random people who wanted to be nice and do nice things. So we waited to give blood and we waited for like two or three hours but they, after waiting they said they didn't need any more. This was in Brooklyn Heights too, it wasn't even that packed, you know? Um, um, and then we went home, well back to Brooklyn. I think, yeah that was the second, yeah back to St. George. That was the second day. And then somehow I just like didn't know what to do, like there are all these vigils and everything at the Promenade, and I think I remember on the first day I remember going to church afterwards like both of the, there were these two churches. There was a Presbyterian one and a Lutheran one right across the street from it. They were both open for like, just they had their doors open constantly for like 24 hours at a time. I just went. I was like, you know, I just feel like I need to go to church now and I need to be spiritual and be with God and I did that and like talked to God a little bit, and then that girl Ria laughed at me and she and Martha went back to Martha's room and Ria's like, "I can't believe you want to talk to God right now." And I’m like, "Well, yeah." But I think like I felt through the whole thing, like it was horrible even in the beginning I felt like it was horrible and it was completely awful, awful but I saw I really felt like I saw the face of God in certain people because people were so nice, so nice, like. And for months afterward people were so nice and considerate to each other it's nothing I'd ever seen in New York before and like, I don't know. It just made the city much more compassionate and I think if any good came out of it or like God was in it somehow, he was just trying to show us that, he was trying to like, I don't know, I think a lot of people went back to their faith and back to their roots or whatever and I think, I kind of, I kind of always felt that but I never really said anything at the time because people were so upset, but I was like, you know this is going to be good for people because they are going to be more into God- That kind of sounds like weird logic but I definitely think that it's true.
Um, so yeah, so after we gave blood, or tried to give blood, I was kind of like, I still had that fear that um, there were going to be more attacks. Because there kind of just like, I think for one reason like I felt, I felt really removed from it because I was in Brooklyn and then we just kind of were on edge anyway. Wait, oh wait so then we went home, oh yeah, so then we went home and then um, we went home that night and we got drinks with, we got drinks with the people we were in line with and they were all really cool like. We really bonded with them and um. We didn't stay friends with them but they were just really nice and it was really great like. We were like crying together and this one guy, this really strong black guy just like sitting there crying on the arms of these girls he didn't even know who were like ten years younger than him. And that's the kind of thing where I was like, yeah. God you know. Definitely. So we got drinks and then we went home and the next day it was raining really hard and my friend um, Joe came in from New Jersey? Yeah, he came in from New Jersey because like, I think people felt too, people who weren't there had this need to gravitate to be there and I think we saw that in the months later too and you still see it, when people, when tourists came from other parts of the country to visit and everything like that. And Joe and I felt like that. Like Joe came back from Jersey and I felt like I wanted to be there and wanted to help out so we um, went to the Javits Center and it was disgusting and cold and rainy which helped out the smell, because the smell had been horrible and you didn't even want to think about what you were smelling. But the rain like really made it a little bit less dusty. So Joe and I went to the Javits Center and we stood outside again, we stood outside for like two hours in the rain, but again people were nice and they brought us coffee and bagels and bananas and stuff.
Cristina: Two days after?
Susan: Two days after, yeah. And they brought us like coffee and stuff. And um, so we waited to volunteer for like two or three hours, but they didn't need any more volunteers. And it’s like when that many people are volunteering and giving blood and trying to help, it's like how can you deny the presence of God in that? How can you deny that nothing is working when people have this innate need to help out and be kind? Um, and be compassionate. So we tried to help but nothing was working. Or the line was too long, or they didn’t need, they didn't need more people. So, and I think they didn't need us because I had an out of state driver's license or something. Yeah, so, we took the train back to Brooklyn, and he and I, we had dated and like still, like he's a great guy and I totally, he's great. But he and I just like took a nap and we just had this need to be close to each other even though we hadn't dated in like a year. So we took a nap and then he stayed for a bit and went home. And then after that I was like well, I still feel like we're going to get attacked. So I went and I was like, I just want to be with my family. So I went home. I think I took the train, I took the train to Buffalo and went home. But it was funny, as I was packing I was like, um, don't really know what to pack, or like, how long am I going to be gone, or anything like that. So I remember I packed like my clips…clips.
Cristina: Your press clips?
Cristina: Oh my!
Susan: How pathetic is that?
Cristina: That's hilarious.
Susan: And all my favorite clothes. And I was like--and my teddy bear--and was like, I don't know when I'm coming back here. Like, the things most valuable to me, you know what I mean?
Susan: I was like, I don't know when I'm coming back here. And then I stayed at home for like two weeks. I checked the Pace website and then I came back and it smelled disgusting. And you know it was disgusting and there was dust in the air and I had to wear a mask forever, um, and there were like army tanks, like big army humvees down by Pace. Everything was dusty and you know, my friend Sabrina and I were just talking about it, she was like, "Have your lungs been like worse than usual the last couple of years?" I'm like, yeah actually, they have. I mean like I usually get bronchitis, but my lungs like, I just, my cough is ridiculous. I hack and because I guess apparently they just, someone, they just had the first death of like "9/11 lung" or whatever, they just diagnosed it as that. But I definitely see, I mean it was definitely because those few months being at Pace, it was disgusting. Like you wore masks, it was so bad. But everybody was really shaken up at Pace. Some of the teachers were great and wanted to have like touchy feely conversations, which I wasn't into because I still was like, certain teachers more than others, but I wasn’t into that because I still wasn't stressed out by it. It just, it took me a few months to get upset by everything. Um and then...
Cristina: Just to back track a little bit, did you hear about the Pentagon that day, like when did you hear about that?
Susan: I heard, when did I hear? I think I heard from my mom. Yeah, when I called my mom she told me that they hit another, and that too just freaked me out even more because it made me think even more like, what am they going to bomb next? Like, I'm so done for like that kind of thing, like that paranoia. It makes you value life, though, you know? It makes you think like, what if this is my last day? You know? So I felt like that for a while. I wish I felt like that more but I don't anymore.
Cristina: Well it's hard to I think. It's depressing. Um, let's see, let’s see. Did you ever consider transferring?
Susan: Um, no. No, because I thought that like, it was um, in a way I kind of felt privileged to be a part of everything because it was such a unique experience that, was so unique to the country and to the city and to everyone that I felt really privileged to be involved in it and um. I think more than anything I felt really angered and rooted in Pace after that. If I had left I don't know what would have angered me.
Cristina: So back to what you were saying before, how did you feel the University and the professors in general handled the situation, because, the general culture like sort of?
Susan: I thought it was, well, it was kind of like two fold. Corporately, like the administration was good because they had a good response set up um, in that you know, they had stuff on the website and then they had a hotline you could call and see what was up. And then the Pace Press was updating their website so I looked at that a lot so information-wise it was awesome. And then when we got back to school, like emotionally it was rad too because I felt like I got a ton of support from Dyson and all the teachers I was close with as well as like the counseling center had people set up like they did intakes constantly and were very understanding. So but I never, like, yeah, I think they had good resources available. But everybody was so, everybody was so much more freaked out than I was because a large portion of the Pace community had been there, like been at Pace when it happened that I felt like everybody was more bummed out than I was so I just didn't really, I don’t know, I kinda took that into consideration.
Cristina: Um, how long would you say it took for things to get back to quote-on-quote normal if that ever happened?
Susan: Um, I think that everybody had a memory of it for so long, it affected everything for so long. I think it took, everything ran smoothly like again, it's like a corporate and an emotional level. Like, everything ran smoothly like right after. Everything ran fine but I think for like two years it was, there was always the memory of it, until you had like the students leaving and a new student population coming in, and it, there was kind of not the memory of it as much.
Cristina: What about, were you (Pace Press) news editor at this time when this happened?
Susan: Shortly after.
Cristina: Shortly after, so you were a staff writer?
Cristina: I mean, how did, how did the Pace Press handle it?
Susan: They were awesome. Like, I think as much as everyone felt the need to help out, they felt the need to be there and to report which I think is the mark of great journalists. Um, so I know there were about three or four people, the current editor and then the arts and entertainment editor so Shams, Luis, and I think this girl. no she wasn't there she was freaked out, and um, Miguel and a couple other people who were there the whole time and who were reporting everything and who were taking pictures of everything, like Shams produced an issue of the paper at the Kinkos in Queens and like he updated from his house and everything and that I found to be so admirable. And it was so essential to the Pace community. I personally I like just started the week before, like literally.
Cristina: Oh sure because it was September.
Cristina: Oh okay, okay.
Susan: So I, I mean, if I had felt like that connection to the paper or knew anyone on the paper I probably would have felt the same way.
Cristina: Right, right. Um, let’s see. Do you feel that it affected your education or your time at Pace, 9/11? Was it sort of always hanging over your head? Or was there a time when you felt like you weren't thinking about it?
Susan: Um, like I said after like two years it was kind of like everybody calmed down and like we were supposed to forget about it, you know? The first year, and the second year was pretty, pretty rough but um, I only, it, it vividly affected just like the landscape of my memory that I have for those like, for my sophomore and junior year, like everything is thinking about like going to my friend's apartment and seeing like everything torn up and the streets torn up, and seeing the pipes in the streets and they're still and, and they’re still tearing up all the streets because of all the vehicles and shit like that, and seeing all the tourists. So like, yeah it's affected the backdrop of everything but not, I don't know, I don't think it really affected my education.
Cristina: So I mean how would you contrast you know life at Pace from your freshman year to your sophomore year? Was it just different or was it basically the same?
Susan: No, it was completely different, but not because of 9/11.
Cristina: Oh, okay.
Susan: It was different because like freshman year you get your hand held a lot more especially because you're living right in the school, and then sophomore year, sophomore year’s really about becoming independent for me, because of 9/11 and because, I guess because I was living somewhere else as well.
Cristina: Right. Um so since 9/11, um what was your opinion of the invasion of Afghanistan a few weeks I think it was after the attacks, and the subsequent War on Terror?
Susan: It was horrible. It was completely ridiculous! Like, when we were invading Afghanistan... like I remember first, whoever it was, Colin Powell said oh, "we're not going to invade, we're not going to invade," because we couldn't pinpoint them as I mean we could link that group of terrorists, which I hate that word, to their country, but we couldn't pinpoint the country of Afghanistan as the real threat. So I thought it was completely ridiculous that we invaded them and I think we never really thought why they might do it, we just used their religion as a like cop-out, "oh they're Muslims, and it tells them to hate Americans," or something like that, but we never thought about our culture and how our culture affects them and how we need to change a few things. Um, and I think Iraq is even worse, because Iraq has nothing to do with anything! Why are we even there? It's ridiculous, and we've been there for three whole years and people are still going over there, like I had a dream last night that all my friends had to go there. And like, I was like because, for me I feel lucky because I barely know anybody there. Like maybe like a distant person that I went to high school with, but in this dream like my best friends were there and I was like, and I was asking my best friend, “When are you going to be back?" and he was like, "Well, I'm supposed to come back in February, but who knows."
Cristina: That's depressing.
Susan: It's really depressing. But it's kind of like that like, I feel like we have no exit strategy, A, and B, you can’t just go into a country and instill democracy somewhere. Because in our country democracy was something that came organically, you know? And there's no method for just passing that along to someone. So, it blows. It totally blows.
Cristina: Where do you feel like you developed, are you, you know, anti-war in general? Or just based on the information you have?
Susan: I think yeah in general, but I think 9/11 really helped me become anti-war because I think, knee jerk, everybody was like, "Oh we have to get them, blab, blah, blah blah, blah" but I never felt that I was like that. I always felt like if anything it made me realize like their situation even more, so, I don't know. And there were a lot of political protests and things after 9/11 too, that I thought, that kind of helped me. There were so many anti-war protests. But yeah…
Cristina: So what do you think of...So you’re not a fan I'm assuming of the subway searches...
Susan: No, it's completely ridiculous. Like I saw in the paper yesterday that um, like on Broadway there are cameras now like for no reason, like what is that? It's not, this bullshit that's going to make our lives safer it's changing our culture and being more compassionate and aware of other cultures. Nobody ever seems to think about it. It's kind of like that Thoreau quote, where like you have a thousand people hacking at the branches of evil but only one person hacking at the roots, like this fucking subway shit and the cameras and everything else, is like, the branches of evil, nobody is even thinking about the roots, like George Bush and "cowboy" culture and shit like that. You know it's ridiculous, whatever.
Cristina: That's why I like interviewing an English major. You get Thoreau quotes. Whatever, they so eloquently explain things.
Susan: I can't even watch the news because it makes me cry. I don't even watch, I try, I read some of the Times, but...
Cristina: Is there, is there a way that …just to play Devil's advocate; is there a way that you'd want to be safer, do you feel like we should be safer or how do you?
Susan: I feel safe.
Cristina: You feel safer.
Susan: I feel safe. I don't know, I mean, maybe if we had specific threats and we responded to them specifically, like we ignored the threat about 9/11 like maybe something like that, but to be honest like all this crap, like random searches and shit like that makes me feel not safe or less safe you know. It just makes me feel like everybody is going crazy and like. But, I feel safer, like I feel safe already you know. This is probably one of the safest countries ever. I don't know.
Cristina: We've been um, learning about a lot of the conspiracy theories in my class and I was wondering if you had heard any of those? That either the administration let it happen, like knew it was going to happen and didn't do anything about it, or made it happen, or...
Susan: I would totally buy that the administration made it happen. I mean I don't know specifically because I think if I start studying conspiracy theories like, I'm going to go crazy.
Cristina: There's a lot of interesting evidence, like I'll give you some websites but like, it's weird.
Susan: I feel like I’d go crazy, but I definitely buy that George Bush knew about it and just had the, I mean almost the reaction that I have like oh we’re safe nothing’s going to happen to us blah, blah, blah, so. But I definitely buy that. Other than that I’m not really sure, yeah. .
Cristina: Um, what do you think, what's your opinion on the Ground Zero site debate? What should be there? What's going on there now? The whole site being so politicized?
Susan: I think it's a bunch of bullshit that nothing's been done with it, like come on. You know? Like thousands of people have to ride the PATH train through the bowels of Ground Zero every day and there's nothing there to remind them that it isn't like a funeral, or like a graveyard? Come on, it's ridiculous. But um, I don't think that the Towers should be rebuilt because that's bullshit and that's just stupid. You know what I mean. It's kind of asking, it's arrogant. It's an example of our culture and why people would hate it, or why other cultures would hate it, because it's completely arrogant. But I definitely think there needs to be a memorial or something of some sort. I don’t think uhh. It's like a penis syndrome. I don't think building bigger towers is going to make us any different. You know what I mean? Like, "Let's build bigger things!" Whatever, that's stupid. But there does need to be a memorial.
Cristina: Did you know anyone in the Towers that died, by any chance?
Cristina: Do you think maybe your opinion of it would be any different if you had?
Susan: Um, I don't know. Maybe, like. It was hard because when that happened I had never experienced death before like, or gone through death or like grieved. So I couldn't, I could be like, I could be empathetic for the families and everything but I couldn't really understand and then my dad passed away, I think I think of it a little different like if he had passed away then I would probably be a little more spiteful, a little more vengeful but probably.
Cristina: Um, let’s just go back to the day again. If you could pick out your most vivid memory when you think of 9/11, what do you think of first, like what's your knee jerk reaction?
Susan: Thinking of shoes being thrown into the wall. Because I mean, I was in Brooklyn and I heard the crash you know? And it was muffled but like, that's what I think of, yeah.
Cristina: Did terrorism ever cross your mind or was it just like…?
Susan: Yeah. Oh yeah. In my mind I wouldn't have thought of it as terrorism, because I don't think that word had even entered my mental vocabulary at that point, I mean now it's everywhere. But I would have been like um, yeah, I think I was definitely like, yeah another culture hated us, hates us and they bombed us, whatever. It made sense to me.
Cristina: What do you think um, your experience as a Pace student during 9/11 was different from just other New Yorkers, if anything?
Susan: Uh, it was different because we were the closest school, um, and I don't know that we lost the most people but we definitely lost a lot of people, we lost the World Trade Institute and there was this constant somber attitude like everybody was just completely bummed out all the time. Um, yeah, I think because we were the closest basically. And I think there was a sense of injustice like too, like NYU and Stuyvesant got a lot of press and a lot of attention and we barely got any attention at all even though we were closer.
Cristina: I know, didn't this paper from like Iowa or something win for best coverage?
Susan: Yeah and we were like, "What’s that about? What are you talking about?”
Cristina: I don't understand at all.
Susan: So it's kind of like, it’s kind of like it's the class thing too because rich people go to Stuyvesant and NYU.
Cristina: That's true.
Susan: And not as rich people go to Pace.
Cristina: Did you visit the Pace campus at all in the days before you went home?
Susan: Um, yes, that's when I saw the um, that’s when I saw like the tanks, because I definitely felt like, it was probably like the day before I went to the Javits Center. And I walked Martha, Martha left the day before I went to the Javits Center, like the day we were giving blood. So I walked Martha to the train, um, she went back to Minnesota. She took a bus back to Minnesota and George Clinton ended up being on her bus!
Susan: Shut up! The whole P-Funk was on her bus. It was ridiculous. I was so jealous.
Cristina: George Clinton takes the bus. Sure, why not. He’s not hard to miss.
Susan: Yeah, so I got on the train with her and I got out at Pace. Just, I felt like I needed to be there, you know? And it was completely deserted, like nothing was there. It was at night too and every, it's deserted at night anyway, but, but the first thing I saw when I came out of the train was this big like tank. Camouflage tank. In front of the deli on Fulton that, the Café Seaport, there was a tank there! And then there was dust everywhere, and it was so weird. I think I walked a half black and got back on the subway.
Cristina: Were you hesitant to live in Manhattan at all the next year or no?
Susan: Um, I don't know. A little bit. Let me think. Yeah, but mostly because I knew I was going to be so close to the site that I'd have to think about it all the time. Not because I was fearful of anything really. Just proximity to the site and it sucked because there were so many fucking tourists.
Cristina: I know what's the deal, I mean? I feel like it's slowed down but I think it's like, people selling that memorabilia there, it's very eerie.
Susan: It's very gross.
Cristina: Yeah, yeah, absolutely so. Okay, I don' have any more questions.
Susan: Pretty good?
Cristina: Pretty good, yeah, thank you so much.
Susan: You're welcome.
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