More than 1,000 UST students have journeyed overseas to study in the London Business Semester over the past 20 years. St. Thomas advertises that the program is ranked No. 23 out of 50 of the best study abroad programs in the country.
However, in 2017 alone, five terror attacks shook London, resulting in 36 deaths and 195 injuries, according to BBC.com. As recently as Sept. 15, 29 people were injured when a homemade bomb was detonated on the London Underground during morning rush hour.
“Student safety is always our number one priority,” London Business School co-director Richard Rexeison said in an email. “Program directors are responsible for setting expectations of responsible behavior.”
The two directors of the London Business School are responsible for keeping tabs on 39 students this semester. Program members are repeatedly reminded that students themselves are largely responsible for their own personal safety.
“Our students are treated as, and in turn act like, the adults we expect them to be,” Rexeisen said.
The threat of terror is unpredictable, no matter how many precautions students abroad take.
“People are absolutely on high alert in London,” junior Katie Coyne said. “(Attacks) are always in the back of my mind. However, London feels very safe in general, and I try not to let fear dictate what sights I see.”
The city itself is taking active steps to help eliminate the risk of terror. London has implemented the use of CCTV cameras around the city.
“Everyone is held a little bit more accountable, because in front of every tube or attraction, there are cameras.” Coyne said.
An estimated 500,000 CCTV cameras are in use in London, according to cctv.co.uk. Approximately 11,000 cameras scan the Tube network alone.
The Sept. 15 attack has proven that the Tube still has vulnerabilities.
“Something that would have been nice to know coming (into the trip) is what to do when you see something suspicious on the Tube,” junior Wyatt Dove said in an email. “Once you get on a Tube line you’re stuck until the next stop. Going over the protocol pre-trip would have been nice.”
While the volume of terror attacks in 2017 has been notable, Rexeisen believes students are at no more risk than they would be at home.
“If we had doubts whatsoever about the health or welfare of the group, we would bring students home immediately,” Rexeisen said.
Kyle Manderfeld can be reached at email@example.com