“Terror attacks prompt FSU to create travel tracker for study abroad students”
by Julie Montanaro via “WCTV”
Students at FSU’s London campus are all accounted for in the wake of Monday’s bombing in Manchester.
That quick check was possible thanks to a recent change for FSU students studying abroad.
It encourages students to enter detailed travel plans on line so the school can more easily locate them in emergencies.
Lauren Romanzak spent a year at FSU’s London Study Centre in 2014.
She’s headed back this summer to help other students learn the ropes.
Monday’s terror attack in Manchester – a two hour train ride away – isn’t going to stop her.
“It’s horrible to see events like this happening across the world,” Romanzak said, “but as a student who has studied in London, I always, always, always felt safe.”
FSU’s International Programs is getting calls from concerned students and parents, including a few right before our interview Wednesday morning.
Its director telling us that recent terror attacks prompted the university to create a detailed new form on line. FSU asks students to fill it out anytime they travel independently.
Dr. Jim Pitts says FSU considered making it mandatory, but weighing privacy, decided to make it voluntary.
“The hotels you’re staying in, how we can contact you … we felt it was better to strongly encourage and morally persuade,” Pitts said, “as opposed to telling us you must tell us where you’re going.”
“I think it brings a little peace of mind,” Lauren Romanzak said. “My roommates and I traveled a lot on the weekends independently so one of us would go down and fill out the form … what our travel plans were … whether we were taking trains, planes … what time we were getting there … where we were staying.”
Pitts says the on line forms replace paper ones used previously by students like Lauren. He says that change allows administrators both abroad and here in Tallahassee to start checking on students’ whereabouts immediately.
The independent travel form went live in April 2016, five months after the terror attacks in Paris.
“We had about eight students in Paris at the time of the attacks,” Pitts said. ‘That really alerted us that we needed to have a system where both Study Centre administrators as well as people in Tallahassee could access to see if we had students in harm’s way.”
The head of International Programs also points out students are briefed on security protocols before they leave the country and again when they arrive in their study abroad city.
There are 126 FSU students in London right now. Add study abroad programs in 18 other cities and there are about 1200 Seminoles crossing the ocean this summer, Pitts said.
He’s not aware of anyone who’s cancelled their summer study plans.