Student behavior prompts investigation into Florence program

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Behavior that TCU officials warn could have resulted in student arrests has prompted a review of the study abroad program in Florence, Italy.

“The program began with behavior not becoming of our students,” wrote Jane Kucko, director for the Center for International Studies, in an email.

Some of the students studying in Florence confirmed there have been problems. But they also said their overall experience has been enriching and they don’t want to see the university change it.

“One incident happened the first night we were here,” wrote one junior TCU student who is currently abroad in Florence and asked not to be identified. “There was maybe 10 people on the rooftop and someone knocked a wine bottle off the roof and it fell and hit an umbrella and then fell onto a patio below.”

The female student responsible for knocking the bottle off the roof was said to have been drinking beforehand, the student said.

“Her arm accidentally hit the bottle after she had had half a glass of wine,” wrote the junior.

After the bottle fell, management at the hotel the students were staying at became angry, the student added.

“The TCU students and the hotel staff began arguing and were getting frustrated with each other,” wrote the junior TCU student.

This event, along with general student behavior abroad, has sparked a reaction from the study abroad office.

“Because of our concern for all our students and our expectations of appropriate behavior, TCU is conducting an investigation on our TCU in Florence program,” Kucko wrote.

In an email sent to prospective students for the Florence spring 2016 program, study abroad adviser Susan Layne wrote that the students who are in Italy this fall have been “indulging in disruptive, drunken behavior that could have led to prison in Italy.”

The advisers in the study abroad office are concerned with the possibility of TCU students studying abroad for the wrong reasons, wrote Layne.

Layne wrote the advisers are worried that students are having an American experience in Europe with their closest friends instead of receiving an authentic cultural experience.

“Overindulgence can result in very superficial touristy experiences that are not only missing the rich academic and cultural learning we strive for, but also are unsafe,” wrote Layne.

After reaching out to multiple TCU students in Florence, many felt as if they were not in a position to comment about the issues taking place.

A second junior studying abroad in Florence wrote she couldn’t comment on what happened because she wasn’t a part of it. She added, “Everything did get blown out of proportion.”

“Whatever incident did happen doesn’t reflect the current students in a negative way, and it would be a shame for TCU to take away a program that enriches students culturally and academically,” wrote the junior TCU student in Florence.

Junior journalism major Bailey Kirby who is also in Florence wrote that her trip to Florence is going well.

“So far, there isn’t much I would change about this trip,” wrote Kirby via email.

“Yes, at times it has been challenging because I don’t speak Italian and I had never been to Europe before coming here,” Kirby wrote. “But for the most part, it has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had.”

The tentative group of students for the spring 2016 trip to Florence is anticipated to be the largest group that TCU has ever sent to Italy. Because of the number of students that have shown interest, students studying abroad in Florence next semester will have classes four days a week instead of three.

Other than the amount of days students will have class, the program has not announced any further changes that will be made to accommodate all of the students in Florence next semester.

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