Turkey in the dorm – some students avoiding Thanksgiving travel

By Martha Irvine The Associate Press
Tuesday November 20, 2001

A post-Sept. 11 fear of flying has some college students planning a rare Thanksgiving dinner away from home this year. 

That includes Jensen Rice, a 23-year-old University of Colorado senior from California. Unnerved by the terrorist attacks, his parents asked Rice and younger sister Cailin, a student at Cornell University in upstate New York, to stay put for the holiday. 

“I’m not too thrilled,” says Jensen, who will spend Thanksgiving with a cousin in Denver, rather than with his parents in Del Mar, Calif. 

To accommodate students in a similar bind, many schools — from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, to Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. — are keeping more dorms open. Among those staying on campus are many foreign students, who’ve been told that getting back into the country might be difficult. 

Some institutions, such as Columbia University’s Teachers College, are planning special holiday dinners for students Thursday. 

And officials at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y., are taking it one step further. They have arranged for a bus to take students to the annual Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. 

While the exact number of college students traveling this week is tough to pin down, those who are leaving campus may be more interested taking cars or buses rather planes. 

A telephone poll taken by St. Louis-based Maritz Research during the last week of September — as students were making travel plans — found that about one in four of Americans questioned had decided to take a different mode of transportation for Thanksgiving. 

The percentage was even higher — nearly a third — for those 18 to 24. Twenty-five percent of respondents in that age group said they planned to fly, while about 71 percent planned to drive. 

Nearly half in that age group said that flying is their usual mode of Thanksgiving transport. The Maritz poll had a margin of error of just over 3 percentage points. 

At least one youth expert says it’s good for parents to let children decide whether they want to travel for the holidays. 

“A lot of times adolescents and young adults aren’t as frightened as adults are,” says Lois McCallister, a psychotherapist at the DePelchin Children’s Center in Houston. “And we don’t want to impose our fears of them.” 

Not everyone is avoiding airports. 

Jack Blair, who attends Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is flying home to Nashville on Wednesday. 

He has confidence in the heightened airport security, although he concedes that having some emotional distance from the attacks probably made the decision easier. 

“I think some of us have a false sense of security when we aren’t confronted personally,” says Blair, who didn’t know any victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. 

Other self-proclaimed “white-knuckle flyers” say they are only more nervous, especially since last week’s crash of an American Airlines flight in New York, apparently unrelated to the Sept. 11 attacks.