Members of Elon University’s Student Government Association met for a town hall meeting focused on the remembrance of 9/11, 20 years later, on Thursday night. Members heard from Mark Dalhouse, director for global education initiatives, and then gathered in groups to discuss their thoughts about the events on 9/11 and how they connect to current events and issues, such as the pandemic, racial equity and inclusion, and mental health of college students.

During his speech, Dalhouse spoke about the Elon community during Sept. 2001, and how then President Leo Lambert reacted to the news of the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Dalhouse said Lambert was preparing for college coffee, a university tradition where students, faculty and staff gather together on Tuesday morning for conversations over coffee and pastries, when he heard the news that two airplanes had struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. 

According to Dalhouse, Lambert held the college coffee, bringing Elon students, faculty and staff together to honor  the lives lost during the attacks on the World Trade Center that day, including an Elon parent who worked at the Pentagon. Dalhouse noted that following the events of 9/11, the campus fell very quiet and silent.

Dalhouse said the events of 9/11 are “now history” and represented a paradigm change not only within the Elon community, but within the greater whole of society. He noted that the world is in yet another paradigm shift with the pandemic.

“Life as we know it changed significantly and now here we all sit masked as a result of the continuing changes,” Dalhouse said.

Members of SGA gathered in groups to dive deeper into how 9/11 changed society and how they can work to address current issues regarding the pandemic, racial equity and mental health.

Senior Chloe Yoon, who serves as the executive vice president, said it is important to think about how 9/11 and the pandemic changed the mindsets of college students and noted how students had to look at the world through different perspectives to understand how society was impacted because of these events.

“They are such different things and [have] such different effects,” Yoon said. “...This is so big, so I feel like it really just takes our mind changing to process it.”

Dalhouse ultimately challenged members of SGA to think about how they can be ‘changemakers’ in the midst of unprecedented events, like 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and to draw strength from one another to create something good from tragedy.

“What does this mean for us? What has changed? How can we harness those changes for the good?” Dalhouse said. “How can all of us become changemakers? How can we bring the good out of tragedy?”