Sunday, April 11, 2010

Schools pulling students out of Mexico

Violence in northern part of nation concerns Texas officials

I'm glad the universities are thinking about the safety of their students.

A question we should ask is how are we similarly devising a plan and protections for the youth in our public schools along the border who have to live with violence daily?

-Patricia


By JEANNIE KEVER | HOUSTON CHRONICLE
April 2, 2010

Violence across northern Mexico has prompted a growing number of universities to cancel planned study-abroad programs and urge students already there to return home.

The University of Texas at Austin asked six students enrolled in an exchange program at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education to leave and has canceled programs scheduled there for the summer and fall.

Texas A&M University had one student in the Monterrey program; she decided to return earlier this week, spokesman Jason Cook said Friday.

The actions came after the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for areas near the U.S.-Mexico border, urging U.S. citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango as a result of increasing drug-related violence.

Christian Clarke Casarez, director of international public affairs at UT, said privacy concerns prohibited her from saying whether the students have left Mexico yet.

The warning did not involve other areas of Mexico, and Clarke Casarez said UT has no plans to recall students studying elsewhere in Mexico.

But the University of Houston cancelled a geology class trip planned for central Mexico over Spring Break, opting to send the students for field work in northern New Mexico, instead.

UH has no students in northern Mexico, but one UH student is at a language school in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. The student will complete the program and return to Houston in mid-April, Jerald Strickland, assistant vice chancellor for international studies and programs, said in an e-mail.

The violence also prompted schools to reconsider plans to send students elsewhere in Mexico in the coming months.

The University of St. Thomas has cancelled a planned student trip to Merida this summer.

The school has sent students to Merida for 30 years, said Diana Garcia, program coordinator for study-abroad programs. No uptick in violence has been reported in the Yucatan, but Garcia said the school was concerned the violence will spread.

Another student recently approached her to ask about spending a semester in Mexico City.

“I hate discouraging students from studying abroad but Mexico City right now, I wouldn't encourage it,” she said

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