BU Students Describe Shock, Gratitude

By Maysie Childs
BU News Service

“Call your mom and dad. They want to hear from you. They are hearing about today on the TV and radio. They love you,” says the sign on the security desk in Shelton Hall, a Boston University dormitory.

The guard on duty put up that sign after he grew tired of repeating that advice to countless students flooding through the door on Monday. The students were obeying BU’s alerts to return to residences in the aftermath of the explosions at the marathon finish line.

Students interviewed talked of confusion, shock, and gratitude. They reached out to their parents, scoured the news for answers, and tried to make sense of everything.
Petrishin Vasily, an 18-year-old BU freshman, was heading back from a weekend trip to New York City when he learned about the explosions in a phone message from friends back in Moscow, Russia. He arrived at South Station to see “complete chaos.”

“Police were everywhere with dogs all over the terminal,” he said as he sat in the entrance of Shelton Hall and checked his phone for news updates. “The first thing I heard when I got off the bus was sirens and helicopters. I thought the only thing I can do now is pray for the families.”

“I was so surprised,” he added. “Boston is one of the safest cities in the world.”

Tom Strissel, a 19-year-old freshman from Franklin, a suburb of Boston, came back to his Warren Towers dormitory after watching the marathon from Beacon Street at mile 25. He received a phone call checking on his safety from his father, a General Manager for Jet Blue at Logan Airport. He did not start to relax, though, still he heard from his sister, who works at a store in Downtown Crossing.

After receiving confirmation that his sister was fine, he and friends sat for hours watching the news on a Boston television channel.

“I was just so relieved when I knew my family was okay,” said Strissel.

Demi Sperazeza, a 19-year-old freshman from Sudbury, another Boston suburb, heard the explosions go off while she and her friends were on Massachusetts Avenue heading toward Kenmore Square.
She and her friends couldn’t cross the street because thousands of runners were streaming though. She didn’t think anything of the loud bang until she saw a dozen SUV’s with sirens speeding up the wrong side of the freeway.

“I felt so much safer when I was finally back in my dorm,” Sperazeza said sitting on her bed in the Warren Towers. “What made it so surreal was seeing all the runners going in.”
Three of her friends sat on the bed across from her in the double room and another sat beside her nibbling Cheez-Its. They sat close, almost huddled together, wearing pajamas, their feet dangling off the edges of the beds.

The girls, unlike many other students, were not watching the news or checking their phones for updates. They were just talking to each other and rehashing the events of the day before heading to bed.

Julie Tantzen, a 20-year-old sophomore from Texas, knew two of the racers who had qualified for the second heat in the marathon. She stayed in to study for an organic chemistry exam and heard most of her news through Facebook and text messages.

“I was really confused, kind of in shock, and then I was scared because I knew people in the race,” Tantzen said. One of them finished, the other did not. When she found out they were okay she says she was relieved but still worried for everyone else.

She had to take a break from studying to respond to the messages from friends and family members who wanted to make sure she was safe. Her dorm on south campus had no security guard nudging students to call home.

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