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20 November, 2015

In the wake of recent events in Paris, IFE here addresses the question of whether its programs in France can be operated safely in the coming semester, beginning in January.

1. IFE considers the current risk level to be well within tolerable limits for sojourns of study abroad by undergraduates from US universities, in agreement with assessments by public officials and IFE’s US partner universities.

2. IFE is monitoring the situation daily and will modify its risk assessment as warranted.

3. The attack against Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 was a very targeted action and the target had nothing to do with America, American citizens, or American interests. While the recent terrorist acts were more generalized the target can still be defined – in fact is defined by the Islamic State – as aimed at France, French society and way of life, and French foreign policy.

4. France’s public safety reaction has been swift and thorough, declaring a state of emergency (essentially facilitating police work) including a ban on large public gatherings, and multiplying the number of police agents and military personnel on the ground in the Paris region.

5. IFE urges its students to follow police orders and common sense. Large dense collections of people in areas difficult to control should be avoided. Students will be informed upon arrival of a certain number of safety protocols to be observed; they will be asked to keep in close contact with at least one classmate and IFE staff; they will be required to procure a local cell phone with a local mobile number, and the like.

6. Personal safety is enhanced by a thorough knowledge of and integration with the local environment. Students are strongly encouraged to join in the life and discussions in their various milieus in France: lodgings, internship, professors and class discussions, social life. Disconnectedness increases fear, but also increases risk.

7. Similarly, risk is more accurately assessed when fear is well-managed. Incoming students are strongly encouraged both pre-departure and once in France to read reputable, balanced news sources and to become informed not only about current news items but also about background information and views useful for comprehending fully the state of affairs.

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Finally, IFE urges incoming students to consult the IFE website for a variety of information on safety tips, fear management, communicating with loved ones, sources of information, student testimonials following the recent events, and other useful material.

Incoming students are also strongly urged to share this communiqué with their loved ones and to direct them to the IFE website.

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