About Us: The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University
Student Safety FAQs

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) are in response to the concerns about international terrorism and war with Iraq. We have security procedures in place to respond to a variety of situations, but we have never had to cancel or suspend a program as a result of terrorism or during the Gulf War, and we do not anticipate doing so now.

Under what conditions will you cancel a program?
What kinds of announcements does the State Department issue?
What if there is an incident in one of your program countries?
How often have you had to evacuate students from a program abroad?
What is your evacuation plan and when would you implement it?
How will you communicate with parents in an emergency?
What security measures do you recommend for students?
How do your offices abroad keep in touch with students?
Is there anti-Americanism abroad?


Under what conditions will you cancel a program?
Our policy is to follow the U.S. Department of State in its public announcements to U.S. citizens worldwide. If the U.S. State Department recommends that U.S. citizens leave a country or area where we have a program, we would require our students to leave the country or area. Students would likely be evacuated by a private rescue company contracted by IFSA-Butler.

Depending on the timing of such an event, IFSA-Butler would make every attempt to find an alternative program so that affected students could complete their semester or summer abroad.

The IFSA-Butler has yet to cancel a program because of war or terrorism. Our students are directly enrolled in existing major universities abroad, and IFSA-Butler would not cancel an individual university program unless that university cancelled or suspended its operations.

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What kinds of announcements does the State Department issue?
The U.S. Department of State issues periodic public announcements and warnings at three levels of urgency. The lowest level announcement is a public announcement that contain descriptions of the country and safety issues of which American citizens should be aware. These announcements include an issue date and a date of expiration.

The second level of public announcement is a worldwide caution, which means that U.S. citizens traveling to a certain country should be aware of a non-specific security issue and should exercise caution while traveling to or within that country. Several worldwide cautions have been issued since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The third level (and highest alert) is a travel warning announcement for a specific country. A travel warning indicates that the U.S. government has received a specific threat and is warning U.S. citizens to be vigilant and on alert for suspicious activity. It often recommends that citizens defer travel until the threat is no longer present.

We send U.S. Department of State worldwide cautions, travel advisories and travel warnings to all IFSA-Butler students via e-mail from our offices abroad. Please visit the State Department website to review information and to see individual U.S. Embassy websites.

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What if there is an incident in one of your program countries?
We will communicate with students via e-mail or telephone through our emergency communication network. We will notify parents by e-mail (where we have been given an emergency e-mail contact). During our orientation abroad, we advise students to follow basic security instructions while traveling. These include: letting people know where they are; leaving an itinerary with IFSA-Butler staff if traveling outside the host city/country; and other measures that will be listed at the end of this section.

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How often have you had to evacuate students from a program abroad?
The Egypt political crisis of 2011 and the February 22, 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, are the only times in our operations history that we have had to evacuate students out of a country or program location. The students in Christchurch had to leave the city but were able to transfer to other IFSA-Butler programs within New Zealand.

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What is your evacuation plan and when would you implement it?
We have an emergency evacuation plan in place for each of the countries in which we have programs. We anticipate having to use this plan only in the event of extremely rare political, natural or safety threats to our students.

We would implement our evacuation plan only in the event of a call from the U.S. government to evacuate all U.S. citizens from a particular country or area. A call for the withdrawal of U.S. citizens is an extreme measure and a last resort.

In an evacuation, the IFSA-Butler crisis management team (including the resident director abroad and several designated officers of the U.S. office) would analyze the event and work together to create an appropriate response. The IFSA-Butler directors abroad are in regular contact with the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in their respective countries. We would closely follow the directors’ recommendations and notify students and their parents of the specific plan and recommended timeframe. We also would work very closely with a travel agent or private rescue company to arrange any necessary transportation.

We would maintain contact with students via telephone or e-mail and arrange for students to be moved either to the U.S. or to another destination, according to the advice from the Department of State and the U.S. Embassy. The cost of international travel is the responsibility of the student. This is true for evacuations by U.S. military planes as well.

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How will you communicate with parents in an emergency?
We ask parents to supply us with at least one e-mail address so that we can communicate in an emergency.

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What security measures do you recommend for students?
At our orientations abroad, we recommend the following personal safety measures to our students:

  1. Blend in to the local community. Socialize and study with host university degree students. Get to know the students in the host dormitories or in your host families.

  2. Speak the language in your host country. Don’t stick out by speaking English where Spanish or another language is the norm.

  3. Speak softly. Americans tend to speak loudly and attract attention.

  4. Follow local security instructions. If police or other government officials have instructed certain behavior, follow the rules, politely and quietly.

  5. Carry your IFSA-Butler laminated emergency card (distributed at orientation) with you at all times.

  6. Don’t travel in large groups, but travel with at least one other person, especially after dark. Have money for a taxi in case you feel uncomfortable.

  7. Don’t frequent American hangouts (fast food restaurants, clubs, U.S. Embassy or Consulate). IFSA-Butler will register you with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

  8. Make a copy of the front page of your passport and give a copy to the IFSA-Butler office abroad. If your passport is lost or stolen, the local U.S. Embassy will be able to replace it more quickly.

  9. Stay away from political rallies or protests.

  10. Avoid risky behavior (e.g., excessive alcohol consumption, walking alone at night, bringing home someone you’ve just met, illegal drug use).
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How do your offices abroad keep in touch with students?
Our orientations include specific instructions on how to blend into a new culture, both personally and academically. Throughout the semester, we also send newsletters, hold special meetings, take students out for a meal or organize event weekends and give them the opportunity to express or discuss any concerns.

In the event of an emergency at a specific university or in a certain city, we would keep the students informed but also tell them to get on with their study abroad programs. We also would tell them to take advantage of counseling opportunities if they feel overly anxious or experience problems such as insomnia or lack of appetite. All of our offices abroad keep referral lists for psychologists and physicians. The host universities have health centers and counseling centers whose personnel are ready to help with these issues.

During our scheduled meals or event weekends, our staff members abroad take the opportunity to meet with our students and to make sure that they are coping well with their academic work and their new living situation. These meals and event weekends are a great time for students to get to know our staff members so that they feel comfortable calling the staff if they need to.

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Is there anti-Americanism abroad?
Anti-Americanism can take the form of political debate or student protest or criticism of American foreign or domestic policy in a classroom discussion. For more information, visit our Anti-Americanism Abroad page.

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