With spring break coming next week, TCU has warned all students of the possible dangers of traveling to Mexico, John Singleton, director of International Student Services, said.
Mexico has been a common vacation spot for students during spring break, but things have now changed in areas around the border, Singleton said.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills sent students an e-mail Feb. 18 cautioning students about safety in Mexico and included the Texas Department of Public Safety’s warning to avoid traveling to Mexico’s border cities. The e-mail also provided the DPS’s general security tips for the break.
According to the U.S. Department of State website, a travel warning was issued in September to discourage Americans from traveling to Mexico because of recent drug-related violence and crime. The warning said dangers are not as prevalent in tourist and resort areas, but said all travelers should understand the risks.
Sohyun Lee, a TCU Spanish professor who teaches a class on the culture of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, said violence is more prevalent in that area partly because it is different from the center of Mexico and the United States.
“It is a conflicting site,” she said. “The border is always a different place. That may explain the overflow of violence there.”
The border is the center of all types of transactions and it sees a constant flow of people from both Mexico and the United States interchanging culture and products including but not limited to drugs, Lee said.
Singleton said this change in safety circumstances in Mexico has also affected educational programs that once traveled to Mexico.
“The institution has a policy that in countries where there is a State Department warning we cannot have official educational abroad programs,” Singleton said.
Although the university has policies like this to protect the students, it cannot control the students’ travel plans during spring break, he said.
Senior criminal justice major Janet Alonzo said she has family in Mexico and would still go visit if she had the chance. She said she has yet to witness the dangers that are being reported in the news.
Her family makes frequent trips to Mexico without encountering any real danger, she said.
After reading the e-mail Mills sent to students, Alonzo said she felt like it exaggerated the risks of traveling to Mexico. She also said stories about the chaos in the country are exaggerated.
Alonzo said it is good to be aware of possible dangers, but people should not let these risks stop them from visiting Mexico.
Singleton said he is aware that not all students would take the time to read the safety tips sent in Mills’ e-mail, and that the university cannot completely deter all students from traveling to Mexico. However, students who are traveling around the border should refrain from traveling at night, he said.