UB Study Abroad moving forward after Paris attacks

UB not canceling any programs, but monitoring situation


After Andrea DiNatale heard about the recent terror attacks in Paris, France, she said her initial reaction was shock. Her next reaction was fear.

DiNatale, who is in her final year of law school at UB, along with six other students, will travel to Paris to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Dec. 6. The group will be working with nonprofit organizations during their time there as well as blogging about their experiences.

“It was the initial shock of hearing about all the lives that were lost followed by fear knowing I was going to be there [in] just a few weeks,” DiNatale said.

On Nov. 13, a series of coordinated attacks occurred in Paris including mass shootings, hostage taking and bombings. The attacks – which ISIS later claimed responsibility for – killed a total of 132 victims.

John Wood, senior associate vice provost for international education, said several students have requested to withdraw from the winter study abroad programs, however, he said their reasons for withdrawing may not necessarily be due to the attacks. Currently, there are 150 students enrolled for the winter study abroad session.

Wood said once UB Study Abroad heard of the attacks in Paris, it followed protocol by reaching out to the students who were in France both directly and “through colleagues at other SUNY campuses administering programs there.”

Wood said the office also reached out to all students who were studying in Europe since it’s easy to travel to different countries while there. One student who was studying in Spain was visiting Paris that weekend.

All four UB students studying in Paris this semester were unharmed by the attacks.

Wood said technology has allowed a better outreach to students in these situations.

“Obviously, the email and smartphones have greatly facilitated communication with students and administrators in emergency situations,” Wood said in an email.

DiNatale said many friends and family members reached out to her to ask if she still planned on attending the conference after the attacks.

Other students who are attending the conference expressed concern about going as well and wondered if the conference would be canceled. But DiNatale said other students from across the country are attending the conference and everyone, as well as the nonprofit groups, still plan to attend.

DiNatale said after she found this out, she wasn’t as afraid about going to Paris anymore.

“I’m not really afraid, I have a lot of confidence in France for keeping everyone safe,” DiNatale said. “President Obama will also be attending the talks, so I feel like I might be in the safest place in the world in a sense.”

Wood said at this time the study abroad office is not planning to cancel any winter or spring programs, but they are “continuously monitoring the situation in all host countries for our programs.”

Most of the other United States institutions with study abroad programs in Europe have not canceled their programs either, Wood said. He said UB’s decision, however, is subject to change, depending on the circumstances.

Wood said groups attend an orientation prior to their departure to abroad programs where the office discusses its protocols for situations like what occurred in Paris. At the orientation, people from the study abroad office discuss ways for students to remain safe during their time abroad. The orientation also gives students the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have regarding their program.

“We have communicated to all students in upcoming programs about our protocol and to reiterate that we are continually reviewing the situation and will keep them informed of any new information and guidance that will help them stay safe,” Wood said.

DiNatale said her parents still have concerns about her going to Paris, but she said she tries to calm their nerves by telling them she’ll be OK.

She alluded to France Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ comment that the United Nations conference will still be held because “it is essential for humanity.”

Editor’s note: Andrea DiNatale served as The Spectrum’s treasurer last semester.

Marlee Tuskes is a news desk editor and can be reached at marlee.tuskes@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @marleetuskes5.