Unfinished Business

By Scott Cole / November / December 2002
June 28th, 2007
At midday on September 11, 2002, the College Green looked almost normal. A class met in a circle, sitting on the grass. Students read books on benches. What was unusual, though, was that the American flag was at half-staff, a reminder that this was the day to remember what had happened a year before.

On the lawn near Manning Chapel the mood was solemn, much as it had been a year earlier at that same spot, where a shocked campus had gathered to hear any words that might help explain the incomprehensible, where many prayed for all those missing in the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers, and the United Airlines flight that ended in a fireball on a Pennsylvania field. Six alumni died in the carnage of that day.

A year had passed, but what had been learned in this place of learning? As traffic hummed on Prospect Street, President Ruth Simmons spoke out against a return to the complacency of September 10, 2001. "Challenge your every assumption," she said, imploring the crowd to fight indifference and bigotry. "We grow by pausing to consider how we should alter or improve our course." She urged the assembled students, faculty, and staff to guard closely the rights to free speech, privacy, and due process, even as we feel less safe and more afraid.

It's essential, she said, "that we not let ourselves step into a state of pervasive fear." And she asked students to do what students do best: to question and examine conventional beliefs. "I, for one," she said, "am grateful to see we're at least looking deeply at whether or not we're on the right course."

After a short prayer the crowd filtered out in silence to the sound of the bells tolling in University Hall. Students milled around on the Green and lined up at the Blue Room cafeteria in Faunce House. The routine of campus life had resumed.

"It was," said Allison Roche '03, as she left Manning, "really a positive experience to be able to share in each other's grief and mourning. God gave us a lot of strength this year."

The service at Manning was one of about a dozen events at Brown commemorating the 9/11 anniversary. There was an open discussion at the Third World Center, for example, and a 10 p.m. candlelight vigil on the Green. But most of the events were part of a two-week-long Watson Institute program called 9-11+1: The Perplexities of Security. The Watson events included public-policy forums and a multimedia art exhibition. One afternoon the president of the Naval War College, Rear Admiral Rodney Rempt, gave his insights on the war on terrorism. On another day professors from the American University in Cairo joined in a videoconference about the impact of September 11 on the Middle East. For two weeks visitors entering the Watson Institute lobby encountered a giant aerial photo of Ground Zero that had been placed like a rug on the floor.

The Watson Institute also sponsored a student short-film competition. There were twenty-one entries, some of which came from as far away as Israel and Germany. The winner was Kevin Messman '02, whose film Apologia shows the twin towers, in black and white, under attack. The words "I apologize" appear on the screen, followed by more images of the attack, and then the words, "but when Babel fell there must have been so many bodies." At the end of the film, the towers fall. ', 'Remembrance ', '9/11/02 was a date to mourn and to absorb the past year's lessons ', 0, 0, 1, 0, '[MEMORIAL] ', null, 0 ) GO insert into dbo.Stories_copy ( StoryID, StoryIssue, StorySection, StoryRank, StoryStaff, StoryStaffOther, StoryBody, StoryHeadline, StorySubhead, StoryFeature, StoryLive, StoryPhoto, StoryPhoto2, StoryElmsWord, StoryFormattedBody, StorySidebar ) values ( 1797, 47, 4, 5, 5, ' ', 'After New York City firefighter Charles Margiotta '79 died in the World Trade Center attacks, many searched for something concrete they could do as a tribute to his bravery. Stepping up were trustee Martin Granoff and his wife, Perry, who as Brown parents donated $1.4 million to establish the Lt. Charles Margiotta Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid to children of firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers, as well as to descendants of September 11 victims.

This fall the fund granted its first scholarship to Nora Henderson '06, the daughter of a New York City fireman who was not at the World Trade Center when the twin towers collapsed but who spent much of the following months on the scene. "The whole fall season," Henderson says, "he was either at work at Ground Zero or at a funeral." She says it's an honor to represent the children of firefighters. "I think before 9/11 people knew firemen were there, but they didn't recognize the daily sacrifice they made," she says. "They're like these humble heroes."

Although Henderson says it's too early for her to commit to a concentration, she is considering neuroscience. But whatever profession she ends up in, she says, she'll find a way to give back to her community - maybe by serving the fire department. "Any way I could make it a part of my life, I think I would," she says. "A lot of people from my background don't get the chance to go to an Ivy League school. I do have an obligation."

If all goes well, firefighting will also be a part of Henderson's personal life: "I'd want to marry a fireman," she says shyly. "Obviously."

Charles Margiotta's legacy doesn't end with the scholarship fund in his name. Joining Henderson at Brown this year is Margiotta's nephew Michael Margiotta '05, who transferred from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after attending two Brown events honoring his uncle. He says the May service organized by Delta Tau, his uncle's fraternity, was especially moving. "The way people spoke about the school and the fraternity and my uncle, it was really special," he says. "I realized this was where I should be." Margiotta says his uncle always spoke highly of his time at Brown. "I think he's definitely happy I'm here." ', 'Legacy ', 'How the heroism of one 9/11 victim lives on ', 0, 0, 1, 0, '[STUDENTS] ', null, 0 ) GO insert into dbo.Stories_copy ( StoryID, StoryIssue, StorySection, StoryRank, StoryStaff, StoryStaffOther, StoryBody, StoryHeadline, StorySubhead, StoryFeature, StoryLive, StoryPhoto, StoryPhoto2, StoryElmsWord, StoryFormattedBody, StorySidebar ) values ( 1798, 47, 5, 1, 6, ' ', 'Sure, the men's basketball team had a successful season last year. Its 17Ð10 finish tied the school record for victories in a season and gave it thirty-two wins over the past two years, the most in Brown history. The Bears also prevailed over local rivals Providence College and the University of Rhode Island, the first time in nearly fifty years they'd beaten both in the same season.

But co-captains Earl Hunt '03 and Alai Nuualiitia '03 ended last season disappointed. Although the team's 8Ð6 Ivy record was good enough to produce the Bears' first back-to-back Ivy winning seasons in twenty-seven years, the team was out of the Ivy title hunt by early February. "If you look at the big picture, [the season] was a success, but in the small window it wasn't," Nuualiitia says. "It was a downer for us." Hunt concurs. "We did some good things last year. But we didn't achieve all the goals we sought after," he says. "Our expectation was to be in contention for the Ivy League title all the way down to the last game."

Hunt's expectation arose from the team's surprising success in 2001, when the Bears entered the final weekend of the season unexpectedly playing for a share of the championship. (The Bears later finished in a tie for second place.) It came as no surprise, then, that at least one national magazine picked them to win the Ivy title last season. But being a favorite presents

a new set of obstacles, as became clear after Yale entered the Pizzitola Center in late January and slipped away with an 80Ð77 win, dropping the Bears to 3Ð1 in the Ivies. "From there we went into a downward spiral," Hunt says. "We weren't used to being in the position of being a favorite and being knocked off."

After a loss at Harvard, the Bears temporarily righted themselves with a three-point win at Dartmouth but fell apart the following weekend, when longtime league powers Princeton and Pennsylvania came to campus. Near-capacity crowds at the Pizzitola Center watched in disappointment as Princeton drilled the Bears 70Ð56, and Penn dispatched them 84Ð74. It was only February 9, but Brown, at 4Ð4, was already out of the title hunt. The fire and energy so evident during the Bears' 2001 homestretch had seemingly gone AWOL.

"I didn't think we played with the passion and energy I like to see," says coach Glen Miller. "We did not handle the expectations well." Later in February, the Bears faced Penn and Princeton on the road but lost by nineteen points to the Quakers and by twenty-six to the Tigers.

Remember, though, that as Miller correctly points out, "For all that [talk of a disappointing season], we only lost one more league game last year than the year before." Indeed, it's a measure of how far Miller has taken the team in a short time that some Brown fans could be disappointed with a 17Ð10 season (8Ð6 Ivies). When Miller was hired in March 1999 the Bears had not had a winning season since 1986 and were 8Ð34 in the Ivies during the final three seasons of Miller's predecessor, Frank Dobbs.

Now it's a new season and a fresh start. "Last year was kind of a transition year," says Nuualiitia. "Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. That's the way I'm looking at it."

Brown steps into the 2002Ð03 season having retained its five top scorers from last year, including the six-foot, four-inch Hunt, a two-time All-Ivy selection who has led the league in scoring, with a 19.7 points-per-game average over the past two seasons, and who is 142 points away from becoming the university's all-time leading scorer. Jason Forte '05, a five-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week last winter, worked his way into the starting point-guard spot as the season progressed, and averaged 11.3 points per game. The six-foot, seven-inch Nuualiitia, hampered throughout last season by a chronically sore left knee, has strengthened it; he hopes to better last year's averages of 11.2 points per game and a team-high six rebounds per game. A strong season in the paint from him is a must if the Bears are to contend. Forward Jaime Kilburn '04 (7.2 points per game) and guard Mike Martin '04 (6.1 points per game), who started in forty-two games in the past two years, round out the list of returning top scorers. Among the new recruits, Luke McMeeken-Ruscoe '06, a six-foot, seven-inch forward who played for the New Zealand Junior National team, may be able to contribute right away, while six-foot, eleven-inch work-in-progress Ben Logan '06 adds much-needed height to a habitually undersized team.

"We have to get that passion and energy back," says Miller. "This should and will be the best team since I've been here. But that might not equate to more wins. Our nonleague schedule is tougher than last year, and the league is the strongest it has been in my four years." Penn, Yale, and Princeton last year finished in a three-way tie for the title, but the Quakers won a playoff round to advance to the NCAA Tournament, which is precisely where Hunt and Nuualiitia want their Brown careers to end.

"When we came in, our goals were making the program better and winning the league," Nuualiitia says. "The program is better, but we've still got some unfinished business."

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
November / December 2002