Lumberjacks Remember Sept. 11

            Stephen F. Austin State University plans to commemorate the fallen heroes and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy with an event called, “Lumberjacks Remember Sept. 11.”        

            The Office of Student Affairs Programs, the Department of Residence Life, and the SFA Veterans Resource Center will be working together to promote a series of events on Sept. 11 and 12 to help students and the community find ways to give back in honor of the thousands whose lives were lost.

            Beginning Sept. 9, student leaders from a variety of organizations on campus, including Student Activities Association, Orientation, Omicron Delta Kappa, Residence Hall Association, and National Residence Hall Honorary will begin placing flags out in SFA’s free speech area. Each flag will represent one person whose life was lost during Sept. 11. The free speech area is a prominent area on campus which will receive much visibility from passing students and staff. The students will also work together to make informative signs that tell passersby information about the tragedy and begin to plant the seed on how these students can give back in honor of these events. Student leaders also plan to place yellow ribbons intertwined with purple ribbons around the many trees on campus – SFA sits in the midst of the East Texas Piney Woods, so there will be quite a few ribbons around our campus! SFA’s colors are purple and white, so this will emphasize our university’s support tied in with the classic yellow ribbon.

            On Sept. 12, students, faculty and staff will begin reading the names of the victims out loud in the center of campus. The Veterans Resource Center is in discussion to have a state representative deliver a short keynote speech as well.

            Students will be given pledge cards to sign, asking them to commit to volunteer time in remembrance of Sept. 11. The cards will have information about service opportunities with local non-profit agencies in Nacogdoches County. There will also be a website where students can report any service they did after the event.

            We will also include questions for personal reflection with the pledge cards, so students can consider the reaching impact of Sept. 11 and how they can help “be the change they want to see in the world” to help remember those events. “Be The Change” is the theme for the Office of Student Affairs Programs this year, so we want to tie this in to our existing programs for a wide-reaching effect on campus.

            Students who come to the Sept. 12 event will also have the opportunity to write a letter to a solider, which will be mailed by SFA, and we will have students pose for photos with signs bearing messages such as “’Jacks support our soliders” and “SFA students thank you for your service.” These photos will be included with the letters.

            Donations will be taken on site during the event to benefit local non profit agencies. We are working with the Veterans Resource Center, as well as the local VFW and DAV chapters, to determine needs in our area related to local veterans, and will try to direct our resources to these needs as much as possible.

            We will promote these events through the SFA website, the local paper, and the student newspaper, as well as the student listserv and faculty/staff daily e-newsletter. The community will be invited to take part in all events as well, including pledging to do service in remembrance of Sept. 11. We will help spread the word of the event through the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce so local businesses can take part, since the events will go on during the lunchtime hours and community members would be more likely to be free to come to campus. Also, we plan to promote the idea to key campus student leaders during an August student leader retreat, where we will be able to get commitments from a number of student organizations to both help at the event and promote it on campus.

            Through our promotions, and considering the location of the events in a busy part of campus, we anticipate 500 students and community members taking part in the events, either through signing a pledge card and receiving information about local volunteer opportunities, helping plan and execute the flag placement and Sept. 12 events, or through contributing donations the day of the event.

            SFA students have a long history of volunteerism. The university has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for four years in a row, and last year, students reported more than 95,000 hours of service. By collecting contact information from each student who signs a pledge card or makes a donation, we will be able to follow up with them after the Sept. 12 event to update them on service opportunities and ensure that they follow through on their pledge. Utilizing a website for reporting the service activities will give us data as well as stories from students who gave back and want to share about the experience.

            Our offices look forward to the opportunity to remember and honor the heroes of Sept. 11 and engage our students in these memorial activities.