BOSP responds to U.S. State Department travel alert

The following message from Ramón Saldívar was recently sent to all Bing Overseas Studies Program Winter Quarter 2015-16 students regarding the current status of BOSP Winter Quarter programs in light of the U.S. State Department’s Worldwide Travel Alert issued on November 23, 2015.

Dear BOSP Students, Families, and Friends,

I write in my capacity as Director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program to share with you our current plans for the BOSP Winter quarter programs in the aftermath of the recent attacks in Paris. Adding to our concern following those tragic attacks, the U.S. Department of State has just issued a worldwide travel alert due to ongoing terrorist threats “in multiple regions” (dated Nov. 23, 2015). In general, these alerts are meant to raise travelers’ awareness of risks in their surroundings, and encourage them to avoid large public gatherings and popular tourist attractions.

Given the travel alert and understanding that you, your families and loved ones are now considering your Winter quarter study abroad plans, I wish to share with you how BOSP and the Stanford Overseas Centers plan to proceed, and why we have reached the decisions we have made. I would like to guide you through what you can expect in the days to come.

1. For the present, following the advice of global security experts at Stanford University, after monitoring official U.S. State Department communications, other study abroad security websites, and what other American programs are doing, we have decided to proceed with all overseas Winter quarter programs. We will continue to monitor the security situation closely. Should global events warrant, we would alert you immediately about any changes in these plans, especially if we were to decide to cancel any Winter quarter overseas programs.

2. We have based this decision both on the steps taken by the French and other European governments regarding their own citizens and residents, as well as on decisions taken by other American programs around the world, with whom our staffs are in continual contact. To the best of our knowledge at the present time, none of the major university study abroad programs have cancelled their winter quarter/semester programs for the 2015-2016 academic year.

3. Since the events of Nov. 13, 2015, heightened security measures have been taken in Paris and other cities. BOSP centers around the world will be following any measure recommended by local security officials and advised by the U.S. State Department. Enhanced safety measures currently in place since the Paris events will continue at all of our overseas centers until such time as we have learned from the U.S. State Department that the travel advisories have been lifted.

4. Any Stanford student who wishes to withdraw from any BOSP program will have the option to do so. BOSP will waive penalties for late withdrawals.

5. Students traveling overseas need to sign up for the State Department’s SMART traveler program (if they are U.S. citizens), or for International SOS travel alerts if they are not.

6. BOSP understands that families and students have reason to be concerned about international travel at this time. For this reason, we encourage all students to discuss their plans with their families and reach what will need to be very personal decisions about their study abroad plans.

Knowing that good and regular communication is essential in this time of great uncertainty, we plan to update you frequently on our plans as we move into the holiday season and as the beginning of the Winter quarter approaches. Please don’t hesitate to contact either the BOSP offices on Stanford University campus or the staffs at the overseas center you are planning to attend. We look forward to our conversations with you in the coming weeks as events continue to develop.

Sincerely yours,

Ramón Saldívar
Burke Family Director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program
Hoagland Professor of Humanities & Sciences
Professor of English & Comparative Literature
Stanford University