With recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, USC is facing dilemmas regarding students and offices abroad. Two USC students who were studying in Egypt this semester have come home, and eight out of the 17 students in Japan have returned to the United States, while the others are currently on break in different countries and have not yet decided what to do about their studies abroad, according to Michael Jackson, vice president of student affairs.
The USC administration cannot force these students to return to the United States, because it is each individual’s decision.
“I would encourage people to come home,” Jackson said. “But people are in different stages of their educational career. Each student with his or her family has to make the best decision in the long-run.”
Although the university cannot force students to leave, it is still taking preventative measures to ensure student safety. Certain USC activities in Japan have been cancelled, such as this summer’s Global Fellows Internship Program, according to Fumiyo Stark, director of the USC Japan office.
USC is continuing to monitor the situation in Japan, assisting other universities abroad as best it can.
“I don’t know what the situation is going to be with the nuclear plant and some of the other issues,” said Ken McGillivray, vice provost of global initiatives. “We’re in constant touch to determine whether or not there are things we can do to assist institutions.”
If Japan continues to have problems which threaten to students’ safety and health, the USC offices will restrict students from studying abroad in the area, Jackson said.
This does not, however, mean, USC is terminating its programs in these affected areas.
“It’s a global university, we’re not withdrawing from the world,” Jackson said. “Sometimes we have to be more cautious about where we send people.”
At the moment, the university is interested in reassuring students about safety while abroad.
“The key is that we’re organized so that if something happens, we can reach out and help them,” Jackson said.
The record-keeping begins before students leave campus for their studies abroad. USC has a well-developed database that displays which students are going abroad, to what countries with what programs they’re joining and an emergency contact for the university, according to Jackson.
“We don’t have offices in every country, the key is that students are in really good programs that are supervised by professionals who have lots of experience who can work with us to get students out of harm’s way if crises occur,” Jackson said.
USC does have offices in locations of strategic importance, however.
“[These offices] allow us to be much quicker in terms of reacting to particular situations, good and bad,” McGillivray said.
For instance, USC maintains a wide presence in Asia, having one or two overseas offices in most Asian countries, according to Saori Katada, associate professor of international relations.
“[They] can operate as the key agent in getting communication between students and USC,” Katada said.