University President Lee Bollinger and his wife, Jean Magnano Bollinger, opened their home yesterday afternoon to University students in need of what the president”s wife described as a “home away from home.”
“There is a sense of family on this campus,” Lee Bollinger said. He added that they offered their house as an attempt to bring some sense of normalcy back to campus.
“There was some sort of transition needed,” he said. “However, I don”t think normal life is possible right now and won”t be possible for a long time.”
Jean Bollinger said they wanted to help students feel more comfortable moving into the weeks ahead.
“We want to take care of people and to offer vulnerable people support,” she said.
As part of the gathering, Jean Bollinger organized musical performances from different cultural groups around the University.
“Personally I felt that music was the one common language we all share,” she said.
Several of the groups who gathered at the Bollinger residence to perform were the Kol HaKavod Choral Group, the Fanfare Marching Band, members from the Institute of Indian Music and students at the School of Music.
“Music is a powerful force for bringing people together especially in times of tragedy and that we are proud to be here on this day,” said Ajit Acharya, a University alumnus from the Residential College and a member of the Institute of Indian Music.
Jean Bollinger said she feels music is an important part of students” lives and members of the groups that performed agreed.
“It is wonderful to bring together the University community at a time of tragedy and to uplift the spirits of University students,” said Eric Hachikian, a sophomore in the School of Music and the director of Fanfare.
“We were honored to be able to contribute to the diversity of the afternoon,” said Julie Maltzman, an LSA sophomore and member of Kol HaKavod.
The Bollingers, along with Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, attended services at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor on Friday evening to show their moral support for members of the Arab community who may be facing attacks of retaliation because of their cultural origins.
“It is frightening and disturbing to people who are subject to that kind of intolerance,” Lee Bollinger said.
Jean Bollinger stressed the importance of looking out for all the students who are away from home, many of whom are away from home for the first time.
“There is a huge responsibility on the University in speaking on what they think is important,” she said.
Students were grateful and appreciative that the Bollingers took the time yesterday to meet and speak with them.
“I thought it was very gracious for the president and Mrs. Bollinger to open their house to students. It is an opportunity for students to gather and take in the event,” said Michigan Student Assembly President Matt Nolan.
“I think it is nice that the faculty and staff are making themselves accessible and that the community is mobilizing so quickly to come together,” said Toby Bulloff, an LSA senior.
The sense of community at the Bollinger residence was apparent throughout the afternoon.
“They just wanted the students to feel that they had a home to come to in this tragedy,” said E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs. “I think it speaks for how he feels about the students and the University.”