USM participants in British Studies program. Source: Dr. David Davies
Dr. David Davies, via Skype from London
The Director of the University of Southern Mississippi's British Studies program said he is confident the program can "carry on" safely for the rest of the summer.
Dr. David Davies said there are 135 participants overseas in the British Studies Program, 120 students and 15 faculty and staff. Dr. Davies said two-thirds of those students are from Southern Miss.
After the attacks Saturday, USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett tweeted out, "All of our students and faculty members studying there have been accounted for and are safe."
Davies said the group is staying at a residence hall at the University of Westminster, which is in the northern part of the city, while the attacks at the London Bridge and Borough Market happened in the southeast part of the city.
"We tell our students to follow a security protocol, which they get in touch with us immediately to tell us they are safe in the case of the event of a national emergency," Davies said. "Our first concern was to get to a place where we could hear from our students and check them off on a list to ensure everyone was safe."
Davies said Saturday was the first full day for students to explore London. He said it took about three hours to get in contact with all participants, with some who were sleeping or out of wi-fi range following the attacks.
Davies said the group had a meeting Sunday morning.
"We have reiterated our security protocol and security practices over and over to the students," Davies said. "The most important thing is to keep track of our students and to keep them safe. We talk about traveling in groups, trying not to stand out too much as tourists - essentially all the common sense advice of being safe."
Davies said some students and faculty were uneasy following the attacks and a few have asked what would be the process of going home, but none have asked to do that yet.
"All of us are in this program because we believe in the power of international education to really change students and really expand their horizons," Davies said. "We stand firm in that belief despite the events that are going on gosh, in America, in the UK, really everywhere."
"The bottom line of concern is to keep our students safe," Davies said. "We believe in the current environment we can. The state department is not advising Americans to come home so we are holding steady with our program, hoping our students can move past this and get an incredible benefit from this kind of program."