Northwestern students abroad in France safe, accounted for


Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Armed police stand guard on Saturday, November 14, 2015, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, which was kept dark in honor of those who died in the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. France declares a national state of emergency after at least 120 people were killed in gun and bomb attacks.

Alice Yin, Campus Editor

All Northwestern students studying in Europe are safe and accounted for, the University said Saturday, a day after terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 350.

There are 82 undergraduate students and 11 graduate students studying in Paris, University spokesman Bob Rowley said. All have reported they are safe, as have students studying abroad in Europe outside of Paris.

“Since this horrific incident began last night, our Office of Global Safety and Security and other staff members have been working tirelessly,” Rowley wrote in an email to The Daily. “We are very grateful our students are safe.”

NU is operating nine programs in Paris this quarter, according to the Study Abroad Office’s website. France has been the top study abroad destination for NU students in previous years, according to data from the Study Abroad Office.

The Office of Global Safety and Security is working with the Study Abroad Office and the International Program Development office to ensure students have proper resources and support, Rowley said. He said there are no plans to cut NU’s study abroad programs in France short in light of the attacks.

French President François Hollande announced Saturday that the Islamic State group is responsible for the attack, which is considered Europe’s deadliest terrorist attack since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, according to The New York Times.

ISIS corroborated its responsibility for the attacks in Paris, claiming they were the “first of the storm.” The multiple shootings and explosions came from three teams in six different locations, including the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was watching a soccer match between France and Germany.

Weinberg junior Simone Rivera said she was also present at the match with three of her friends, including Weinberg junior David Levin and McCormick junior Xander Chase.

“A little into the first half we hear this loud bang,” Rivera wrote in an email to The Daily. “We all thought initially that it sounded like a bomb, but no one seemed too worried about it.”

Rivera said it wasn’t until after halftime that she, along with the rest of the stadium, realized they were standing in the middle of a terrorist attack. The fourth friend in her group, Rivera’s childhood friend Isabelle Edmonds, had received a phone call from her mother who said there was a string of terrorist attacks in Paris, one of which was unfolding at the stadium, which has a capacity of 80,000.

Initially, Rivera and her friends were barricaded in by police forces, she said. People began crying and attempting to contact their families and friends as authorities tried to direct the crowd.

“It was only after exiting the stadium and regaining phone service did we come to the awful realization that not only had there been a terrorist attack on Paris but on the exact location we were standing,” Chase wrote in an email to The Daily. “It was a gut wrenching feeling to read the breaking news headline on my phone ‘Carnage in Paris as Terrorists Attack Stade de France’ while standing in Stade de France.”

People in the crowd began running in different directions, Rivera said, so she and her friends began down an alley to a police checkpoint until another swarm of people suddenly turned around and sprinted toward them.

“Everyone then panicked, parents were picking up their children and we all started running back to where we came,” she said. “That was the scariest moment of the night, we all temporarily lost each other. It felt like we were all running for our lives.”

There was no immediate threat, she said, although the group of four ended up wandering the streets around the scene of attack for several hours. Eventually, Rivera said they found a cafe to wait in until one of her dad’s friends drove over to pick her up.

“It was terrifying to be in such a densely populated area that had just been bombed several times, while constantly hearing new news that the attacks were continuing,” Chase said.

At least one U.S. student studying abroad in Paris died from the terrorist attacks. California State University, Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzales, who was studying at the Strate School of Design for a semester abroad, died in the attack, the University announced.

Rivera said program directors in Paris have been doing a good job reaching out to students.

NU’s International Student Association will host a vigil Sunday in solidarity with Paris and Beirut, Lebanon, where The New York Times reported at least 43 people were killed Thursday in Islamic State group suicide bombings.

“The sense of camaraderie that is currently tangible in Paris is a testament to the city’s coat of arms, ‘She is tossed by the waves, but she does not sink,’” Chase said.

This story was updated with comments from University spokesman Bob Rowley.

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