When Anthony Saad, a UB senior who is Lebanese, first heard of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he hoped the attackers weren't Arab -- because "we're the first ones to get blamed."
Minara Uddin, a sophomore member of UB's Muslim Student Association, said the bombings were an affront to her religion.
"When the twin towers collapsed, I felt the pillars of Islam fell as well," she said.
Saad and Uddin were among three dozen UB students and staff members who met Wednesday in an open forum to discuss their reaction to last week's attacks on New York City and Washington.
The diverse group, though smaller than some participants wished, covered a broad range of concerns about the bombings and how they've affected the country and the campus.
The hourlong meeting was held in the Student Union's social hall, a room whose four sides are ringed with flags of nations from around the world.
"Our goal today is simply to talk," Dennis R. Black, vice president for student affairs, said at the outset. "To share and to listen, and to find out what's on the minds of our university community."
Initially, university administrators offered some words of caution -- and thanks.
"I just wanted to say how proud I am to be a member of the university community," said Daniel Ryan, director of the Career Planning and Placement Office.
Ryan, who helped counsel students in the hours after the attack, praised how students and staff came together to offer assistance.
Ellen Christensen, director of health education and human services, said people should pray for the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, "so that their hearts will change." She urged calm.
"We don't want to stay in that crisis mode, create anger and lash out for the sake of lashing out," Christensen said.
Senior Luciano DiPietro, a member of the Organization of Arab Students, said he fears that a U.S. military response will incite this nation's other enemies and prompt more violence.
"I see there's a reaction going back and forth," DiPietro said.
Brandon Morrisey, a sophomore English major, said the university's requirement that all undergraduate students take a class on world civilizations of the past should be updated.
"I think the student body could benefit from a current world civilizations class," he said.
Others pushed for more heavily publicized, regular campus forums.
The university held a forum on tolerance today in the Student Union social hall. A third forum, on world terrorism, is planned Friday, same time and place.