Sep 112011
Authors: Erin Udell

Tom Milligan was in the Oval, John Straayer was driving on I-25 and Shauna (Roche) Kieffer was in her college apartment.

Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard the news that a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, setting into effect a series of events that would change the world as we knew it.

Tom Milligan, CSU’s vice president for external relations

“It’s something that you’ll never forget,” said Milligan, who was preparing for the university president’s fall address on the Oval.

“In terms of putting on an event, there were a thousand things to worry about,” he added. “I can’t forget how it seemed so unimportant so fast (after hearing the news of 9/11).”

Milligan was one of the many people on campus at the time of the attacks, adding that there was a widespread feeling of helplessness.

“I think the people were shocked, a little bit numb, a little off kilter,” Milligan said. “One of the hardest things in a situation like that is asking yourself, ‘What can I do?’”

In response to 9/11, Milligan added that CSU and the University of Denver created a year-long event called Bridges to the Future: American History and Values in Light of September 11th.

Bridges to the Future began one year after the tragic events, bringing notable speakers and public figures to lecture at both campuses, opening a dialogue between students about America’s heritage in light of the attacks.

“It gave us something to do in that unbelievable, shocking situation,” Milligan said.
John Straayer, CSU political science professor *

“I was on I-25, on the way to campus, listening to NPR when the initial news came on,” Straayer said. “My vague assumption was that it was a small plane and just an accident.

“And then the other one hit.”

For Straayer, the events of 9/11 were a blur as news kept pouring in more and more information on the nation-wide attack.

“As the day went on, like everybody else, you’re glued to the news, glued to the television,” Straayer said. “It was just a blur, an avalanche or river of news with an extraordinary mix of angst, anger, puzzlement and grief all rolled into this incredible ball.”

In terms of how the events shaped the world in the following years, Straayer said he thinks 9/11 was a catalyst, kicking off a chain of military involvement events from Afghanistan, to Iraq, to where we are today.

“It also triggered a series of new legislation and organization to create a security apparatus that is much larger than it was and much more expensive,” he said. “Had 9/11 not happened, what would our national budget look like, the security apparatus look like?”

Shauna (Roche) Kieffer, CSU alumnus, class of ‘04

As a sophomore and Collegian staff writer at the time, Kieffer said her 9/11 experience was different from other students on campus.

“Because I was at the Collegian, I got to go around campus and gather their stories,” Kieffer said. “I remember one girl had me call her uncle who lived in New York.”

“We were pretty far removed from it, though,” she added. “It was more about listening to other people’s stories. It wasn’t an individual experience for me, it was about being part of the collective.”

Now, as an attorney in Minnesota, Kieffer said the anniversary has caused her to look back on her experiences.

“I think I was such a kid back then,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be so significant, but it gave students more of a purpose.”

“I don’t think any of us had anything this significant happen to us on our home front since Pearl Harbor,” she added.

“It’s one of those reminders that life’s short.”

News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at

CSU Pre- 9/11

  • Prominent issue on campus: Whether or not to allow concealed carry weapon permits
  • University president: Albert Yates
  • Front page news of the Collegian: “CSU students challenge themselves on Fourteener climbs in Colorado”
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