UNF Students react to Brussels attack and studying abroad


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of students who are from our local universities are in Europe, learning the tough lesson of traveling in an area that is on high alert for terrorism. Their schools are taking every step to make sure they stay safe and return home.

There are 47 University of North Florida students and two faculty members in several different countries overseas right now. We know the university had reached out to them to make sure they're okay. We've heard everything is fine. Some experts say this is no reason not to live your life and travel or study abroad, but you do have to be on guard.

In wake of yesterday's terrorist attacks in Brussels, and the November Paris attacks, prayers, fears, and concerns are felt around the world. Those thoughts extend all the way here to Jacksonville, even on UNF’s campus.

"It's definitely concerning. Very sad. I know there's a lot going on," said James McKenna, a student at UNF.

"There are major events in major cities in Europe. These events are happening so close together. It just
makes me worried. What's going to happen in a month? What's going to happen in a week?" said Brian Lopez.

Ellen Glasser is retired FBI agent and UNF professor who has a background with the North Florida
Terrorism task Force. Glasser says the most important thing traveling students can do is:

- listen to their group leaders
- don't travel somewhere not recommended
- and if something doesn't look right, speak up- especially in crowded places

"The idea is just to keep your eyes open. If you see something,  report it. That could actually help law enforcement or the intelligence community to prevent something from happening," said Glasser.

And if an attack is imminent, act.

"Each situation is different. IF you're the only thing standing in between something bad happening, you need to act. But that's not usually the case. Usually these events require planning," said Glasser.

Glasser also reminds everyone that a threat alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security back in December is still in effect. This serves as a warning about terrorism in public places. It's not set to expire until June. Glasser wants people to remember that the chance of being a victim of a terrorist attack is very slim. But still, being vigilant is key.

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