Students abroad are in danger

The lure of studying in a foreign country can be hard for college students to resist as exchange programs become more accessible and more affordable. International programs can help a student understand, appreciate and participate in another way of life. Rarely will a student come back from his or her trip without a renewed sense of independence and respect for other cultures.

Yet sometimes a student’s trip can unexpectedly turn into a nightmare. Muggings, attacks, kidnappings and even murder are all things that university students have encountered while studying abroad. Currently, the U.S. State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to 28 specific countries altogether. Many of these nations are located in the Middle East, and in light of last week’s attacks and the possibility of war, universities should request the return of their students from these countries.

The ultimate concern lies in the safety of the students; residing in a foreign country, especially in the Middle East, during this constantly changing situation makes any American a possible target of terrorist attacks or other risks. Although university and college administrators don’t want to think about the possible consequences of allowing students to remain abroad, they must take the most serious and frightening outcomes into consideration. While some students might object to the idea of being forced to leave their foreign studies, schools must convey the urgency and danger of the situation. Undoubtedly, not a single person on any campus or in the nation would be forgiving to a school if something tragic did happen to one of its students, especially when it had the time and opportunity to prevent it.

All institutions of higher education should call back their students immediately, before chaos escalates and the dangers of being abroad increase. Logistically, it will be easier for students to return now while the United States is still reacting to the attacks. Once military action has begun, forces will have to resort to extreme measures to ensure the safe return of American students. Also, as international flights become less frequent, schools must be quick to facilitate returning students. It is imperative that universities withdraw all students from dangerous areas before they are at severe risk of being harmed. Put simply, no school should wait until students must be airlifted out of a violent situation.

Just as administrators are concerned with the safety of students on campus, they must be aware that students abroad face a unique threat. Although some students might feel relatively safe right now in the Middle East, no one knows what will happen in the coming weeks and months. Universities and colleges must be smart and take pre-emptive action; having our students back in America will surely be a relief to parents and friends alike.