By Antoinette Cea
All students studying abroad in Europe from the Catholic University of America are safe in spite of the recent terrorist attacks made by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Paris and Brussels.
According to the Director of Education Abroad at Catholic University, Grace Schneider, study abroad students were encouraged to stay in their residence halls and contact family as soon as possible to ensure their safety.
Study abroad students were also given the contacts of the United States Embassies in their current resident cities, and contacts for the Counseling Center if they felt the need or desire to speak to someone.
“We were all, of course, very concerned as soon as we heard about the news,” said Schneider. “Even before the full extent of the attacks was known, we reached out to students in Paris and received confirmation that they were safe. We hope and pray that incidents like these will not happen again, but nowhere in the world, either at home or abroad, is ever completely free of the reach of evil. Part of the purpose of study abroad is to build understanding and acceptance of those who are different from us. I hope that message is not lost amid the violence and sorrow of the past few days.”
Soon following the attacks in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of 129 civilians, ISIS made a video threat to the Washington D.C. area. In the video, it was claimed that, like Paris in the center of France, Washington D.C. would be struck.
Days following the video threat, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at Catholic University sent an email to the Catholic University Community encouraging everyone to report suspicious activity if noted. Further, it was expressed that DPS is capable of handling threats made at Catholic University and routinely trains for emergency situations.
In the instance of violence, safety measures would be implemented on campus such as CUAlert text messages, emails, and voice mail notifications warning the campus community of the events. Many other safety measures would be taken, including social media updates and fire alarms.
Many students express their concern for the students studying abroad in Europe, as well as for safety in Washington D.C. and on campus.
“When I heard about the attacks, it was just so tragic,” said sophomore Nursing major, Justin Stine. “What I would like to note is that I am really proud of America standing in solidarity with France after the Paris attacks. When 9/11 happened, France stood with us, and now it’s time we stand with them. I’m also trying my best not to worry about the D.C. threats, but I would like to see some sort of promise other than the message DPS just sent out to ease my mind.”
Around the United States, the recent terrorist attacks committed by ISIS is furthering the debate on allowing Syrian refugees into America, and Catholic University is no exception.
“I see a lot on Facebook about how we need to put our Veterans before them [the Syrian refuges],” said senior Psychology major, Jaqueline Descloux. “I don’t want to turn them away, but I do see concern. Some of the terrorists in Paris were refugees.”
Many on campus agree and support Pope Francis’ call to help those refugees experiencing turmoil and violence in the Middle East, for Jesus Christ, St. Joseph and Mary were refugees.
“I uphold the Pope’s call to assist these latest victims of war and terror,” said University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, Reverend Jude DeAngelo.