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Talk it out, courtesy of the red, white & blue

I had forgotten about Osama bin Laden.

I have never forgotten how blue the sky was in New York the day the Twin Towers fell. Or the heartbreaking images of people jumping out of the towers. Or what it was like to watch my fifth grade classmates get picked up throughout the school day and not know what was going on until I got picked up during lunch. I’ll never forget any of that.

But bin Laden? I would have loved to have personally stomped on his face, but with papers to write and beers to chug and internships to apply for and Panera to eat, bin Laden’s existence slipped my mind in the past couple of years. I’d be willing to bet the same holds true for a lot of Americans. But the second I saw a Facebook post saying he was dead, I ran to turn on CNN. I knew what this meant, how huge this was. Finally, finally, the man who blackened that blue, blue sky was gone.

And then Bird Library started cheering as people forgot about their finals and rejoiced in an American victory. Fireworks were launched in the Watson courtyard and “Born in the USA” reverberated down frat row. SU students joined the rest of the country in celebrating the leader of al-Qaida’s downfall.

Minus some song choices that were inappropriate for the occasion (“Born in the USA” is actually speaking against American policy during the Vietnam War), it was inspiring to see American college students come together so wholly. At SU we are divided into our fraternities and sororities, North and South Campus, majors and schools – it’s very easy to separate ourselves from the majority, almost to the point that there is no majority.

So when the kind of energy that erupted last night snakes its way through campus and wraps itself around us all, it’s a big deal. But the challenge now is for us to take the death of Osama bin Laden and use it to engage with one another.

Yes, it’s finals week, and yes, some of us are still hung over from MayFest weekend, but the whole campus is reacting. We have opinions, we have things to say, and we have a rare opportunity. This campus is filled with people who are different than you, racially, religiously, geographically, politically, socioeconomically (insert some more –ly terms here if you so desire). And the death of Osama bin Laden marks a perfect opportunity for us to take advantage of this diversity and talk to each other.

Maybe you’re from Manhattan, and the girls down the hall from you are from China. Talk to them. Tell them what it was like to be in the city on 9/11, and then find out what it was like to be halfway across the world. Or maybe the kid you sit next to in psych is a diehard Republican and you’re a liberal. Duke it out (respectfully, of course). Because college is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas and a venue for dialogue and diverse give-and-take, but too often it is not. If we really want to make bin Laden roll over in his grave, we should use his death as an opportunity to connect with each other and, together as a campus, strengthen the spirit that erupted last night.

Elora likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain...but only warm rain, and especially rain that's packaged in summer thunderstorms! The sophomore magazine journalism and English major is an assistant feature copy editor for SU's independent student newspaper, the Daily Orange, and is a contributing writer for GALA Magazine. She is also a brother in the community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Elora has country music on her iTunes for every possible mood and she will never turn down a Dave Matthews Band concert, a trip to Panera Bread or a pickup soccer game. Although she's not sure exactly what she wants to do after graduation, she hopes to use writing to make a difference in someone's world.
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