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 emergency contacts 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?
In over 25 years, IFSA-Butler has only had to cancel two study abroad programs due to the 2011 political revolution in Egypt and the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. IFSA-Butler’s policy is to follow the U.S. Department of State in its public announcements to U.S. citizens worldwide, as well as the advice of our emergency assistance provider, security intelligence firm, host university officials and IFSA-Butler senior administration. If the overarching message is for U.S. citizens to leave a country or area where IFSA-Butler has a program, IFSA-Butler may need to suspend the study abroad program. Depending on the timing of the event during the semester, IFSA-Butler would make every attempt to find an alternative program, so that affected students could complete their semester abroad. 

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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?
IFSA-Butler has a critical incident response plan and protocols in place for every program location and all IFSA-Butler resident staff are trained in emergency response procedures. During the program orientation, students will be trained to follow basic security and emergency instructions while abroad and these instructions are provided in this Student Handbook.

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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?
As a part of the critical incident response plan, IFSA-Butler has an emergency evacuation plan in the event that a critical incident would occur that warrants student evacuation from a study abroad destination. In an evacuation, the IFSA-Butler crisis management team, in conjunction with the on-site program staff, U.S. State Department, emergency assistance provider and security intelligence provider, would analyze the critical event and work together to create an appropriate response. If determined necessary, IFSA-Butler may arrange through the emergency assistance provider for students to be moved to a safe location either in country, in the nearest safe country or back to the U.S. 

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How will you communicate with emergency contacts in an emergency?
IFSA-Butler asks students to supply us with 1-2 emergency contacts as part of the predeparture planning process, who can be communicated with via email, should an incident arise.

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What security measures do you recommend for students?
IFSA-Butler offers specific advice in the areas of staying while out walking, while in a public place, while on public transport, and while in their room/hall of residence. We also recommend the following when the risk of terrorism is elevated: 

  1. Blend into the local community. Socialize and study with the host university degree students. 
  2. Speak softly. Americans tend to speak loudly and attract attention. 
  3. Follow local security instructions. If police or other government officials have instructed certain behaviour, follow the rules, politely and quietly. Keep up with local and international news. 
  4. Carry your laminated emergency card with you at all times. 
  5. Travel in small groups of three or less American students and definitely travel with at least one other person, especially after dark. Have money for a taxi in case you feel uncomfortable.  
  6. Avoid frequenting American hangouts (i.e. fast food restaurants, club and stores). During turbulent times the U.S. Embassy or Consulate should also be avoided because they tend to be a spot for protests and violence.
  7. Make a copy of the front page of your passport and keep it in a secure place. If your passport is stolen or lost, the local U.S. Embassy will be able to replace it more quickly if you have a copy.
  8. Stay away from political rallies or protests. They can turn violent very quickly. 
  9. Avoid risky behavior. Maintain your home as a secure place and do not invite strangers there. Abuse of alcohol or taking illegal strugs that impair your judgment can result in you becoming a victim.

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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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