The U.S. Department of State has issued a Worldwide Travel Alert that alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats.
If students, faculty or staff are planning to travel internationally, please consult the travel alert and country-specific information.
The State Department says U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation; be aware of immediate surroundings; avoid large crowds or crowded places; and exercise particular caution at holiday festivals or events.
State Department security tips include:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
> Follow updates from the U.S. Department of State on Twitter at @TravelGov or on Facebook
> Find information about advance international travel registration for SMU-affiliated programs or activities
— Sarah Hanan
SMU has heard from all 11 of its students studying in Paris that they are safe. The SMU Travel Oversight Committee is closely monitoring the situation and is receiving updates from the U.S. State Department and International SOS.
SMU community members abroad are asked to be aware that France has declared a national state of emergency and has tightened its borders. On Saturday, Nov. 14, the U.S. Embassy in France issued a security message regarding the terrorist attacks:
“Further incidents are possible. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security, including limiting their movements to essential activity. U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.”
While airports and train stations remain open, travelers may expect delays due to heightened security measures.
All SMU Abroad students are covered by emergency travel assistance through I-SOS and may use the services of I-SOS worldwide during their term of study abroad. During SMU Abroad orientation, students received laminated cards with emergency phone numbers for I-SOS. I-SOS contact information also is available online at the International SOS website. In addition, every SMU-approved study abroad program has its own emergency preparedness plan and protocols.
Students with concerns or questions are asked to contact the SMU Abroad Director, Dr. Cathy Winnie (214-768-4904), or SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters (214-768-1586). Student safety is the highest priority of SMU and our partner study abroad programs.
Students abroad are asked to review these personal security steps:
- Register your travel with the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP;
- Make sure you register all independent travel with your program director so staff can reach you immediately in an emergency; remember to confirm and update any changes to your emergency contact information in your my.SMU account online;
- Follow news reports closely;
- Remain alert to your surroundings at all times;
- Walk away from the first sign of trouble, and report any suspicious persons, packages or activities;
- Avoid loud conversations and discussions that identify you as foreign, and avoid wearing clothing such as football jerseys or university sweatshirts, or T-shirts with American logos;
- Keep your international cellphone with you, fully charged and turned on at all times, and respond immediately to any calls or messages from program staff.
As Spring Break 2009 approaches, SMU encourages all students, faculty and staff to heed U.S. Department of State travel warnings. Information about travel warnings, including specific information about trips to Mexico, can be found at travel.state.gov.
Meanwhile, several SMU students are spending their March hiatus building homes, preserving natural resources and delivering meals across the United States as part of 2009 Alternative Spring Break.
Led by SMU’s campus community service organization SPARC (Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Citizenship) and Office of Leadership and Community Involvement (LCI), students will work with community agencies including:
Learn more about this year’s trips at SMU’s Alternative Spring Break website. (Above, a photo of students participating in the 2008 Alternative Spring Break in Taos, posted at SMU’s Student Adventures website.)
• Visit the SPARC website
• Visit the LCI website
• Read the U.S. State Department travel alert for Mexico