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More than 300 UB students received free bus transportation to New York City over the weekend, thanks to the efforts of the university's student government.

The Student Association chartered six buses to drive 327 students back home to their families in the New York City area, said Joshua Korman, the association vice president.

The buses were scheduled to leave Friday night and return to UB Tuesday.

"The goal is definitely to reunite students with their families," Korman said Friday.

The association first chartered three buses, then five, but the response from students was so overwhelming that organizers finally rented six large buses -- as many as the charter company could provide, he said.

The association will end up spending $10,000 to $12,000 of its budget -- paid for by student fees -- for the buses, Korman estimated.

"I think it's the best money we've ever spent," he said. "As far as an emotional impact, anything else we're ever done pales in comparison."

The university already has arranged transportation, largely on Amtrak trains, for students who may have lost loved ones in the bombings of the World Trade Center.

Two UB students, Monica Parikh and Andrew Ekelund, wrote a letter to the student newspaper, the Spectrum, emphasizing that the vast majority of Muslims condemn terrorism and violence.

"The Muslims here love America. Muslims here are peace-seeking and respect America. Now they're weeping along with us," they wrote in a letter in Friday's edition.

They concluded: "I beseech you, please separate the extremist fundamentalists outside of our country from our American Muslim neighbors. Please distinguish terrorists from peaceful Muslims."

The American Red Cross has scheduled three emergency blood drives on the North and South campuses to help the victims of Tuesday's bombings.

The first blood drive is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Squire Hall on the South Campus, and the second drive is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at 210 Student Union on the North Campus.

The third drive is set from 3 to 9 p.m. next Monday in the Red Jacket section of the Ellicott Complex, also on the North Campus.

Students, faculty and staff may call the UB Student Health Center at 829-3316, Ext. 140, to sign up to donate.

Many of the prayer vigils and remembrance ceremonies held at UB this week have included the reading of this prayer, attributed to the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"Lead me from death to life, from lies to truth.

Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Lead me from hatred to love, from war to peace.

Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.

Peace. Peace. Peace."

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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