Dangers of study abroad misinterpreted

The April 24 front page story (“Trouble in Paradise” SN) misleads readers to believe a tremendous amount of crime occurs during MSU-sponsored study abroad programs.

The fact is that during the past five years, less than 1 percent of all participants reported incidents related to security/crime. Nowhere does the story mention the average number of participants (2,745) or the total number of average reported crimes (17.6) — information we provided to The State News.

This lack of context misleads readers and leaves the misimpression studying abroad is dangerous.

Safety is a prime concern at Michigan State University, and the Office of Study Abroad is nationally respected for our policies and procedures to protect participants while acknowledging that no single plan can address all contingencies and that students are ultimately responsible for their own actions.

MSU procedures are designed to keep study abroad as safe as possible. These include a regular review of safety issues in each program location, a full-time international health and safety analyst and mandatory orientation sessions for students and mandatory emergency preparedness and response seminars for program leaders.

Additionally, students are advised about safety, including personal document security, emergency preparedness, alcohol use and misuse, illegal drugs and emergency assistance.

Students face similar issues living and traveling here in the United States, and we encourage participants to exercise the same precautions as at home.

MSU is engaged in many regions of this big world of ours. Through more than 300 programs on all continents, we offer carefully structured opportunities for students to join our dedicated faculty and staff in this engagement. We encourage The State News to put danger in context, thus offering its readership a more realistic view of education abroad activities through MSU.

Brett Berquist, Executive Director, MSU Office of Study Abroad

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