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Kelly Sheahen Gerner recalls reporting 9/11

I remember watching the television in the basement of Ethel Moore as the plane flew into the second tower and I kept thinking I should have brought my reporter’s notebook downstairs with me. The night before was a Weekly late-night; I had stayed up til after midnight laying out our news section and already I was picturing how we were going to change it to feature the attacks. I was more excited than scared until I saw pictures of people literally running for their lives and I remembered that my cousin and I had done our Christmas shopping in the mall under the World Trade Center the year before and all of a sudden it was real. And it was scary and terrible and nothing in the world seemed less important than a stupid student newspaper.

At some point I called the Weekly’s then-editor, the inimitable Leslie Griffy, and asked her what we were going to do. “Report it, of course,” she said. “How can we?” I blubbered. “We’re the paper of record for Mills College,” she reminded me. “When historians look into our archives, they will want to know what this day was like on the Mills campus.”

Classes were cancelled that day and as I walked to the Weekly’s offices, I stopped every professor and student I ran into and interviewed them. The story wrote itself.

We redesigned the news section, re-wrote all the articles and laid it all out in a matter of hours. I got back to Ethel Moore very late that night, and found that someone had placed a sticky note with the word “Hope” on every doorknob.