U.S. State Department alert unlikely to affect international, study abroad students

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    Update, Monday, Aug 5 2:00 P.M. CST: In addition to the worldwide travel alert issued on Friday, The U.S. State Department annunced today that several American embassies in the Middle East and North Africa regions will be closed until August 10.

    In an email sent to TCU faculty and staff today, director of international student services John Singleton wrote that graduate students flying in from the affected regions have arrived on campus, and that he is not aware of any undergraduate or Intensive English students flying in. 

    Singleton wrote that the International Student Services office can expect delays for any traveling students that are awaiting an appointment to get a new visa.

    ORIGINAL TEXT, Friday, Aug 2

    TCU program directors expect little to change with TCU international relations after an global alert from the U.S. State Department was issued.

    On Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a global travel alert to Americans going abroad, citing a possible Al-Qaeda attack. Twenty-one American embassies were closed due the alert, primarily embassies in the Middle East and Northern Africa regions.

    The regions, which include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and other nations, will be on alert until August 31, according to the State Department. The U.S. State Department launched a similar alert in February earlier this year.

    Tracy Williams, TCU’s associate director of the center of international studies, said the study abroad program does not offer programs which would send students to affected regions.

    Williams said the closest any TCU study abroad program gets to an affected region is Seville, Spain, which is roughly 3.5 hours north of Northern Africa. Williams said she has already contacted the Spain program director and advised her on security alerts. 

    As more information and data comes out, the program will continue to react to the information according to program policy, she said.

    “We have not told students to come home and we have not told them to not go abroad,” Williams said, regarding precautions given to students.

    Williams said that if there was a direct warning or alert about an area where students were to go or currently are, proper evacuations and emergency services would be put into place.

    The university is partnered with International SOS, an organization designed to ensure safe travel out of an emergency zone if students are abroad and in danger, Williams said. 

    While TCU has never needed to use International SOS’s services yet, Williams said the service is ready as an insurance for any environmental, medical or political disaster which may happen.

     

    International students likely unaffected as well

    John Singleton, representing TCU International Student Services, said that students who have been flying in from affected countries have not had much trouble, if any, in traveling to the United States so far.

    “We don’t have enough data from the alert, but it seems there’s more regional worry than international worry,” Singleton said.

    He said the organization has not issued out precautions or warnings to international students from affected regions and does not have plans to do so. Singleton also agreed with Williams, and said the 

    “There really isn’t anything that you can do to prepare for this in terms of scrutiny,” he said. “By nature of intelligence, they don’t tell you enough data.”

    Singleton did not have a total figure of students from regions affected immediately available, but said that students from the region have been arriving at TCU over the past two weeks.

    Jake Harris contributed to this report.