Messages from the President - November 2015

Final Update: Friday November 27, 4 pm 

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

This will be my last emergency update to our community, as we will be taking the red security banner down from the home page tomorrow. We feel we’ve moved out of a state of emergency at this point. We all now feel the moment has come to resume our normal rhythm of communication. We have confidence in the French authorities to manage the situation, and feel that the best thing we can do for our students as they finish up their exams is to surround them with calm and care. Our security messages will be archived on the security page of our website for those who want to consult them afterwards. 

Last night we held our annual Thanksgiving dinner as guests of our neighbors, the American Church of Paris, in the basement of which our university was founded in 1962. Students, faculty and staff celebrated together that quintessential American holiday together with a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a host of pies. Not gourmet, exactly, but comfort food of the highest order.  We were delighted at the felicitous timing of this holiday, which gave us all a chance to render thanks for all we so abundantly have. As I circled the room speaking to members of our communities, I saw students wearing hijabs, a young man with a kippa, others wearing crosses. We accept, honor, and celebrate our many differences. They are the very air we breathe at AUP; they inflect all learning on what has to be one of the most demographically diverse learning communities on the planet. For the privilege of leading such an extraordinary institution, I am profoundly grateful.

Thanksgiving

The fact that it is Thanksgiving this week also allows me to express my own gratitude to the many students and parents who responded to my messages in the kindest and bravest possible ways. It has been a great privilege for me to be in such close touch with so many students and their parents, the vast number of which have been extraordinarily supportive of us as we worked our way through these two difficult weeks in our wounded city. Please know that I sent your messages on to members of AUP’s staff who have given way above and beyond the call of duty this week. You can expect to hear from me periodically over the break and beyond, as I will be launching a newsletter “From the President’s Desk” that will henceforth go to parents and students monthly.  Stay tuned for information about our new security measures to be unrolled in January, including a campus security app to be made available to each AUP student. 

I want to say a word of public thanks to our security staff, headed by Nelly Moulieres and Phil van Eiff, our IT staff, headed by Ali Rahimi and Pierre-Yves Vasner, our Student Development Office, headed by the incomparable Kevin Fore in Marc Montheard’s exceptional absence for University travel, and supported by Sandrine, Yann, Jennifer, Jo, Joelle and many others, our Registrar, Maggie Martin and her hardworking team, the administrative staff of our entire Academic Affairs office under the leadership of Christine Tomasek, and Brenda Torney who cooked stuffing and cranberry sauce for hundreds of students while we all managed the situation at hand.  AUP’s Leadership Team—notably our wonderful Provost, Scott Sprenger, and Gail DeNicola, our valiant Communications Director and her team—deserves a victory wreath for its fast reaction to the events and split-second decision making capacity, its professionalism, and its loving care for our students. Finally, I am infinitely grateful to AUP’s dedicated faculty who are on the front lines with our students.  Each of them has served as advisor, mentor, and guide over the past ten days, turning on a dime to accommodate the new academic policies we devised to treat every student as compassionately and equally as we could. That doesn’t mean, however, that these new guidelines have been easy to implement!

May I please remind you that each student MUST fill out the web form indicating how you will finish up your semester and which, if any, options you are electing.  This must be done by midnight tonight, no exceptions, or you will automatically be assigned a “no change, letter grade” option, with a stay in Paris until at least the 9th. The vast majority of AUP students have chosen to finish their classes normally, and are staying at the least through the 9th.

On Monday we will release to the whole community the schedule of events, films screenings, roundtables, and performances that the faculty and Student Development team have lined up for students staying beyond the last day of classes. We are all excited about this unusual, but promising conclusion to the semester. Many staff members intend to come to these events as well, providing all of us with the closure we need before the holidays.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a restful holiday season and may I enjoin you, while together, to celebrate your lives in all their fullness. This year a return to family will have special meaning to each of us, reminding all of us of what is most essential. Our best defense against those who mounted the attacks on Paris is our unity as a multicultural, interfaith, multilingual worldwide community. That is what they fear the most—our love and respect for one another, our unity as a global community. AUP’s mission has never been so resonant, nor so relevant.

Please go to our news feed to read a lovely opinion piece on Paris returning to life by AUP graduate student Virginia Poe. It was seen and sent to me this morning by a fellow president in South Florida where it was just published.

Wishing each of you a bon week-end, as we say here in France,

Celeste Schenck


Update: Monday, November 23, 18h/6pm Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents, 

I hope everyone had a reasonably restful weekend, and enjoyed the return of the beautiful Paris sunshine today.   In today’s update, I want to go over a few guidelines, make a few announcements, bring you up to speed on our ongoing improvement of security, and, finally, share with you a Letter from Paris penned by two AUP faculty members for the Los Angeles Review of Books.  I have gotten behind on answering email because of the sheer volume, and hope to catch up in the next few days. 

First, a few reminders.  AUP is not closing early.  Classes will be held right up until the scheduled final date on December 9.  Exceptionally, however, the reading days and final exams week, which extends from December 9th to the 18th,  does not have to be spent in residence in Paris.  Students may choose to leave before that date, after December 9th or anytime between the 9th and the 18th.   You may stay in your Comforts of Home apartments right up until the 20th.   All students will benefit from the same set of options for completing the semester.  You will shortly be receiving the link to the AUP web form I mentioned in my last update last week.  Our faculty will adjust their schedules in order to help students complete assignments, assessments and final exams according to this new timeframe. Some professors may require all assignments to be completed by December 9th. Other professors may assign take-home final exams or other evaluations to be submitted electronically by December 18th. Professors will communicate their syllabus modifications and any new due dates to their students shortly.  You will have the next four days to discuss your options with your professors, your advisors, and your parents.  Your submission will need to be in by midnight Friday, November 27th.  

We understand that there is a fair amount of concern about which option to choose and how to manage these end-of-semester changes.  Please rest assured that our desire is to get every single student sorted out and we will not rest until this has been accomplished.  I, the Provost, the Associate Deans of Academic Affairs, members of the Registrar staff, advisors, and the Student Development Office (studentaffairs@aup.edu) are here to help you and answer all your questions. 

Announcements:

  1. We have cancelled the study trip to Brussels scheduled for later this week—given the security situation in Belgium—and full refunds will be made.  
  2. The December 12th graduation event for December graduates will be maintained. Some parents are planning to attend and AUP will go forward in celebrating this.
  3. Most events on campus will go forward, with heightened security, through December 18th.   Any outside guests who do not have an AUP ID card will need to RSVP 48 hours prior to the event and they will need a valid ID card to get in. Parents must accompany their child/student with a valid ID. 
  4. Wednesday night November 25th from 18h30 to 20h30, a panel of AUP faculty and students will discuss the meaning and implications of the November 13th attacks. 
  5. On December 7, at 18h30 in Combes, AUP faculty members Cynthia Fleury and Stephen Sawyer will screen a film and discuss the critical study of democracy  in the context of our new Center for Critical Democracy Studies.
  6. We are beginning a new feature this week on our Web site called “AUP Student Voices,” so please look for it in the News section on our home page.  Student writing on the events over the past week has been superb and moving and we want to share it with the AUP community.  

Security Issues:

  1. Security at AUP has been tightened over the past week—bag checking, ID checking, and badging is systematically taking place across campus.  We have just installed at Latour-Maubourg a bag check followed by double electronic badging at a second glass door on the inside.  In addition all entries to the University have been equipped with alarm technology that automatically dials a phone cascade in case of emergency. 
  2. In addition, we have again requested support from the US Embassy and the French Prefecture, particularly in light of recent events.
  3. We are envisioning other security technologies to be installed during and after the holiday break.    

AUP faculty too have begun to write about what we have experienced here in Paris.  I would like to share with you a Letter from Paris posted by AUP History professors Albert Wu and Michelle Kuo this past weekend.  It will give you an idea of the richness of the exchanges taking place in our classrooms and outside them over this past week.  You can find it here: https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/letter-from-paris

Warmest regards to all,

Celeste Schenck

 

Update: Friday, November 20th, 2015 4:30pm Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

I wish all of you could have been with us at the AUP vigil last night.  All three grand salons of our Combes Building were mobilized so that attendees could interact and talk, express themselves by writing notes or making origami figures or drawing, or, finally, enter a sacred space in which candles flickered and flowers abounded and beautiful music gathered us into a cortege of visitors to a wall mural of testimony.  On the wall were letters and poems written in our many AUP languages, including Persian and Arabic, and Japanese and Chinese, not to mention some 76 others which have come into the University in the last three semesters alone.  Over the mural was written in French: “Et nous, on a des fleurs,” which means, “and we, we have flowers.”  This is, I believe, a line taken from a video that went viral earlier in the week, capturing a father and his little son discussing the attacks.  Please see the report on the vigil in our newsfeed today:   https://www.aup.edu/news-events/news/2015-11-20/aup-students-hold-vigil . Our student journalists are back to work and have already filed several compelling stories about the recent events and AUP vigil on their news website: http://peacockplume.fr/

I’m writing to you this morning having just returned from a briefing with the Ambassador at the US Embassy.  You can read the Embassy’s statement about security in France on the US Embassy Citizen Services page of their website.  The Embassy expressed full confidence in French security forces upon which it too depends, confirmed the report that the “mastermind” of the Paris attacks had been killed in the raid earlier this week, yet counseled each of us present, all heads of American institutions located in Paris, to tell our constituencies to exercise vigilance about your surroundings, to let others know where you are going, to check in with family frequently, and to stay away from shopping malls, the public shrines set up for the victims, and any other public gatherings;  in short, anywhere where large numbers of people visibly congregate.  Although I can certainly understand why students would wish to visit some of the sites—the Bataclan, the Place de la Republique, for example—to lay flowers and poetry for the victims of the attack, I, and a number of faculty members who signaled this to me, would strongly counsel AUP students not to do that now.  We’ll be holding more events such as last night’s magnificent vigil planned by Delaney Peterson and her fellow SGA leaders for all of us.  And Thanksgiving—open to all members of the AUP community—beckons next week in the sanctuary of The American Church, which generously opens its space to us every year.  The Provost and AUP’s faculty, Student Development and the SGA, have already begun planning many special events to bring our community together on campus.   

The Embassy also confirmed that COP 21 is going forward, although all the public gatherings, marches and manifestations associated with it have been cancelled.  Undeterred by recent events, over 140 heads of State have confirmed that they will be coming for the proceedings, which will be held at Le Bourget, located between Northern Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport.  Between November 30 and December 11 there will be heightened security and thus delays on the A1 motorway during that period.  If you will be going to the airport during those dates, please leave much more time than usual to get there.

Yesterday’s message on AUP’s exceptional academic policy for exceptional circumstances made clear that the AUP administration and faculty encourage you to choose the option of staying on campus at least through December 9, the official  last day of classes, to complete your semester.  We did not shorten the academic semester, and will indeed be teaching it out;  instead, we have provided flexibility and options so that students wishing to stay longer, or to leave after the last day of classes can be accommodated.  It did not seem to us necessary to force students to remain in residence for reading days and the exam period unless they so desired.  And students who do stay until the end will benefit from an extraordinary week of events designed for extraordinary circumstances.  Students who wish to stay longer and find themselves in housing alone should contact studentaffairs@aup.edu so that we can move you to another apartment for the duration of the semester.

In any course in which course requirements cannot be terminated before December 9, an Incomplete will have to be filed. 

IMPORTANT: We will send you the webform in which you will express your preferences on Monday, November 23, giving us time to finish creating one that will further clarify your options, and to finish consulting with our partner programs, all of which have supported our decision.  Each of them has a different policy, so you should both expect them to contact you to explain theirs and to hear from us summarizing their position.  We are also making certain that faculty and advisors at AUP are on the same page, so that beginning Monday students will be able to discuss their options with teachers, advisors, and members of the Student Development team.  The overwhelming number of individual emails is making it difficult for us to respond in a timely fashion, although we are trying our best.  Please expect to receive targeted messages clarifying your options.  There is plenty of time before the next Friday deadline of November 27.

May this be a weekend—especially given the rainy weather in Paris—for plunging into final papers, spending time with friends, attending events on campus, and maybe even watching Netflix in your pajamas.  Please know that our counseling services are open tomorrow, and that the entire AUP team is mobilized to support you as to enter the final weeks of the term.  It is at times like these that the true grit of a community can be felt and its grace enjoyed.

Warmest, Celeste Schenck
 


Message from Student Guidance Counselor, Friday November 20th, 2015 2p.m Paris time

Dear students,

Following the recent events in Paris, we would like to help you make sense of your reactions and be in a capacity to feel OK. What happened on November 13th may have pushed you out of your comfort zone, whether you were in Paris or not. There is no correct or incorrect way of responding. What is important is that you have your response and it is personal. It is essential to attend to this personal response.

You might be experiencing heavy emotions or no emotion at all. You might be feeling homesick or your parents may be calling more than usual. You might be stirred by memories of past events. One can go through a wide range of physical and emotional responses in different stages and here are just some of them:

·       Physical: Difficulty sleeping, being startled easily, difficulty concentrating, racing heartbeat, aches and pain, fatigue…
·       Emotional/Psychological: Anxiety and fear; shock, denial or disbelief; guilt, shame, self-blame; sadness, hopelessness; confusion; feeling numb or disconnected…

If you can relate to the any of the symptoms mentioned above, I want to let you know that you are probably not alone. Here are a few tips that we hope you will find helpful. Please also note that the AUP counseling team has been meeting with students all week on the fourth floor of Combes. We are here today until 6pm and tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am-6pm. Counseling will continue to be provided throughout the remainder of the semester and we hope that you will remember to stay in touch or a refer AUP friends to us if you think that they may need help.

Kind regards,
Sandrine Godt
Student Guidance Counselor


Update: Thursday, November 19th, 2015 3:30pm

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

The decision that we have made after consulting with AUP faculty last night is that fall semester 2015 will officially end on the last day of classes, December 9th, thereby eliminating reading days and finals week and permitting the many students who have expressed their desire to finish their semester in Paris to go home 10 days early.

Each faculty member will take it upon him or herself to adapt pedagogies to the foreshortened cycle, wrapping up all the course requirements by December 9th. It is our fervent hope that most students will attend classes through the 9th, leaving having finished their semester’s work at AUP. There is profound learning to be gained by weathering a crisis.

We also recognize and respect that some families and some students, finding the current situation unbearably anxiety producing, may wish to leave before December 9th:

In this instance, we offer options which may be exercised by November 27 latest, on a course-by-course basis:

1.   You may elect to take an immediate Credit/No Credit option based on your performance to date in a course. In this instance, Credit is awarded for a performance of C or above.  Exceptionally, there is no limit to the number of classes you can choose to take C/NC.  Our partner school USC has already approved this option.
2.    You may elect to request a grade of Incomplete, which will require a written agreement between faculty member and student about the work to be accomplished by January 15, 2016.  In this instance, you will receive a letter grade upon course completion.  Please note that our experience shows that Incompletes put a heavy burden on students over the holidays: this option should only be chosen by students who feel absolutely unable to complete the early closing of the semester in Paris.
3.     We are also extending the withdrawal deadline for individual classes to November 27. In this instance, a “W” appears on the transcript without a negative impact on the grade point average.

This is our final decision on academic policy. We invite you to choose amongst the options outlined above.

Tomorrow night we will send you a link to a web form on which you will be able to register your intentions. All students will need to fill in this form. Please take time to think about your options before filling in the form and submitting it, because you will be unable to change it once filed. Even students electing to stay until the official end of the semester on December 9th will be able to exercise the options listed above. Given the high degree of complexity we are currently managing, your choice will need to be final.  That said, we have extended maximum flexibility to each student. You may begin making arrangements with your teachers accordingly.

Finally, we are proud to announce that AUP’s faculty has elected to remain on campus through the end of the exam period. To the faculty, it is inordinately important to model what it means to hold your head high after a devastating blow, and to continue to think and read and discuss and process and remember that there is nothing so healing as community inquiry, collective intelligence and shared wisdom. In the face of terrorism, it is profoundly life-affirming to go on with one’s plans—not to be cowed by fear. For those students who live in Paris or have arranged travel after December 9th, AUP faculty will be holding special meetings, discussions, events, films, and roundtables in order to accompany students until our last day of planned finals.

Please see our home page news feed today for beautiful stories about four AUP students in the wake of the events of last week.  Later this week we will feature a story about our student-led vigil.

My warmest thanks to each of you for your understanding at a difficult time. 

Celeste Schenck


Security update:  Wednesday, November 18, 12 noon Paris time

The French police have successfully completed an operation conducted in the suburban Saint Denis neighborhood of Paris that targeted additional suspects in the recent terrorist attacks.  Several terrorists were killed and others arrested.  Please reach out to Student Affairs if you want to speak with us about this event. 

Student Affairs

Security update: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10 a.m. Paris time

Dear Students,

A police raid is underway in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, this morning. Suspected terrorists are currently being apprehended and there has been some exchange of gun fire. The police seem to have things under control, but please avoid this area today and reach out to us if you require assistance. Thank you.

Student Affairs


Update:  Tuesday, November 17, 2015 9 p.m. Paris time

Dear AUP Students (and Parents),

Tonight we began to feel as if we were turning a corner.  The city has begun to go about its business with a semblance of normality and although many of us are still under the shock of last Friday’s events, it’s reassuring to return to familiar rituals.  I’ve noticed that students, staff and faculty returning to Paris who had been away during the attacks have a moment of anguish as they land.  But those who have been back a moment and who are walking in familiar paths each day, are realizing that, as one AUP mom put it, accompanying her daughter back to Paris today (Ann Cuddy Thompsen): “it is true that the people of Paris are getting back to their daily lives.  If you watch CNN and other news programs from the US you still get the feeling that Paris is a war zone.  My daughter and I are already very comfortable being back.”  I would also like to share with you the beautiful words of Krista Kirton, yet another AUP mother, who wrote me the following note today:  “I was one of the scared parents who at first blush thought to bring my daughter home. Over the weekend I have come to the conclusion that the best thing to do in the face of this “new normal” is show my daughter strong female behavior and model courage, intelligence and good judgment. I trust AUP to do their best at keeping the students safe.  As one of my mentors said, “Love is stronger than fear”. I arrive tomorrow morning and am willing to help in any way. Please don’t hesitate to call if you need a helping hand.”  These are some of the wonderful AUP parents I have had the privilege of getting to know over this very difficult week.  Warmest thanks to the many, many, many of you who have expressed your support and offered us help. 

A great number of our students have visited with the team of psychologists and volunteer psychology faculty in two spots on campus (LaTour-Maubourg and Combes 4th floor)—we will be continuing this service through Saturday, in hopes that all AUP students who are feeling shaky will come to avail themselves of some professional support.  If you know of a friend or a son or daughter who could use a little TLC and a listening ear, please tell them about this service or better yet tell us to reach out by writing to student affairs@aup.edu.  We check that email address hourly and follow up immediately.    

Faculty are doing some lovely things inside their classrooms and out.  One writing professor has invited students to his home for Thanksgiving; others are spending time on campus informally talking to students at the AMEX;  others are guiding students preparing our first memorial service;  yet another seasoned senior professor wrote the following pragmatic and inspiring message to one of his students.  With his permission, I share it with you: 

After listening to three different classes of students, I did come to one or two small conclusions - I'm sorry if these are already obvious to you from your own thinking and from our class.

Students are experiencing the whole thing much more intensely and nervously because of the media, and because of the social media in particular. It is taking me a lot of my time just reacting to emails, and when I spoke to my mother last night she said she had been receiving lots of phone calls asking after my well-being. I don't do social media, so I can only imagine how unsettling it must be for those who do (which means for nearly all the students). You may find it necessary, for peace of mind, to switch off your phone for fixed durations, when you are at home or in the library and you know that loved ones are sure you are safe (as will be the case by now, I'm sure). Even if you're not able immediately to concentrate, a certain quiet or silence may start to enter, and it is important to cultivate that and try to stimulate the meditative calm (if that's not too paradoxical). Then, when you switch on your phone again, or the computer, you will be reaching out to the world again, rather than having it just bombard you. I know it is hard, as we have all become so dependent on our digital pathways, but I do think it is worth trying…

I would suggest going to dance class and doing a thorough work-out. It's important to find comfort in old habits, and even familiar aches and pains can be reassuring when other coordinates are shaky.

When the anxiety abates a bit, remind yourself, as I said yesterday in class, that just by living your life and by studying you are making a political act of defiance - you as a woman above all, since of course in the crazed ISIS scheme of things there would be no place for educated women. I know it is hard, but do realise that you are living through a historically important moment, and take it from me that in the future you will look back at this period as one whose intensities, while brought on by the most dreadful circumstances, you do not regret having lived, not least as you will have proved that those terrorists did not manage to achieve what they wish, which is to overwhelm our brains and spirits.

But of course one can only reach that later stage by getting through the present, and that leads to another suggestion, which I felt all the more strongly by the end of yesterday than I did when we met in class. In moments like this it is terribly important to reach out to those who are immediately around you - all the easier to do when the computer or phone is switched off. Do not hesitate to stay close to your trusted friends, of course. But also reach out to anyone you have met in class who you think may have more experience of hard times, or who you feel may be able to offer comfort or advice. I can't say for sure, but I believe that the Parisians will be responsive to and understanding off any sudden anxiety attacks or nervousness. Do not hesitate to call for help if you feel you need it. I believe that if one walks into a cafe in tears, someone will respond positively by reaching out a hand. The only way through this is together, and I believe nearly everyone understands that.

On the more practical side, of school work, try to take it one step at a time. When you are working on the computer, switch off the internet for a fixed amount of time; and if you are working with friends, perhaps all of you agree to switch it off together - for an hour, say - and not to talk to each other for that hour but to stay with your own thoughts. Then, after an hour, have five or ten minutes of internet and chat. Then back to work… It is bound to feel artificial at first, but special circumstances require special solutions. The immense feeling of loneliness and homesickness that traumatic events can produce can not be entirely effaced by academic work alone. But if you are able to concentrate for a while, and if you work in a team, then you will already, I'm sure, feel like you are less far from home, not least because you are in the process of becoming the person, or people, that you (and your parents) want (you) to become.

Don't hesitate to be in touch if you'd like to meet or chat further.

We will turn soon to the work of mourning—together.  Student leaders on campus are preparing a community vigil for fellow and sister students and members of the AUP community later this week.  You will have received an invitation in the mail this evening.  Please make the effort—every single one of you—to come share this collective moment of remembrance with your peers, faculty and staff.  We will be assembling a huge community mural of poetry, images, and drawings that each of you brings.  Later in the week, we will post pictures and videos for your parents to watch all over the world. 

With that, I wish each of our AUP students a long night of dreamless sleep—and this for our tired staff as well. 

Warmest,

Celeste M. Schenck


Security update:  Tuesday, November 17, 2015 2 p.m. Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

Our first concern after ascertaining that everyone in our community was safe and reopening the University on Monday has been security, and yesterday was not a perfect day by any means, as we both observed and heard from you.  Some of the additional guards we added since last Friday were not adequately professional in their demeanor nor trained to the standard we had expected.  Since last night we’ve taken several steps to tighten security immediately, which is going to take more time and require more patience on your parts, until we are entirely satisfied with all measures. We are now asking security guards to check bags before entry at all buildings (except La Tour-Maubourg, which has very little student traffic and is accessed by means of double badging).  Additional AUP personnel have been assigned to all our other sites, and we have returned to our outside security firm to request more qualified personnel.  This means that you MUST have your ID on you at all times or you will not gain admission in a timely fashion.  Please do not expect us to make allowances on this policy which is for everyone’s safety. 

By next week, we will have changed our external provider of security services, and we will have added metal detectors at Combes, our largest classroom building with the AMEX on the ground floor.  A host of other changes are imminent as well.  My thanks to several AUP parents who are in the business of campus security for their invaluable advice and support. 

Warmest,

Celeste Schenck


Update: Monday, November 16, 6:30pm Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

Parisians returned to work today, but quietly, as did AUP, and you can tell that in this calm after the storm everyone is trying to get their bearings.  Students are returning to classes and to campus and connecting with freinds and professors.  Many important discussions took place in our classrooms today, and the psychologists staffing my office and that of the counseling office in Student Development saw a number of students who came for support.  We are very relieved to let you know that now every single AUP student (and, we believe, staff and faculty member) has been accounted for.  As we mourn the loss of so many young lives in Friday night’s attacks, we can take some comfort in knowing that none of ours were amongst those.  Over the weekend we have been laser focused on accounting for all our students;  we are now turning to security issues and academic issues, which I will report on in the coming days and weeks.  

Today we sent a text to every single AUP student to confirm your cell phone number.  Please respond to this text.  Students who did not receive a text message from us today should double check the number you have given us.  Update your profile here:  https://www.aup.edu/user/me/edit/contact  It’s critical we be able to reach you in our mass texts, so please be sure you update your profile immediately. 

Our counseling centers will remain open all week, so you should not hesitate to come by to talk to one of our staff psychologists or psychology professors.  Faculty are present and willing to be accommodating for students this week. 

The Press is beginning to reach out to all members of our community, including students.  It is best that all requests for statements be referred to AUP’s Director of Communications, Gail DeNicola—office phone (01 40 62 07 02), cell phone (06 40 93 81 87), or email:  gdenicola@aup.edu

Today, along with citizens of the French nation, the University observed a moment of silence at noon.  Faculty and student leaders are currently preparing a community vigil and the Provost’s Office special academic roundtables for the coming weeks.  Other events designed to offer students a space for processing these events and for understanding their roots and solutions will also be scheduled.  My instinct is to tell those of you who are justifiably very worried to trust the process.  Communities can heal themselves, but it takes time and commitment.  Anxiety will not abate in a single day.  But conversations with faculty and other students, with staff members and parents, can help students work through these difficulties. 

May I share another heartening letter with you from AUP parents:   “We are the parents of first year student Theo Leavell.  Thank you for your letters this weekend, and your plans for AUP students.  It appears you are planning well for students, faculty and staff, and it gives us confidence that all will be well.  We are grateful for your heightened attention to student safety, and that you are holding classes on schedule.  Our view as parents and citizens is that we all must stand tall, unbowed, and live life to the fullest in the face of inhuman acts of terror.  Anything less is victory for evil.  Our children -- your students -- will benefit from seeing AUP respond that way, in its words and conduct.  We are sorry to read some parents may have reservations about their children on campus.  In a free society the danger of this awful attack is always present.  This is a teaching and learning moment for our children in that regard, and our children will benefit from meeting this challenge together. We hope all parents will upon reflection continue to trust their children and the University, as they continue to manage these horrible events.  We remain confident that all that can be done is done to protect our children and urge other parents to believe the same.”  Jeff Leavell and Georgia Herrera 

We experienced some unevenness with security at our Combes Building today, despite our doubling of guards, which students and staff members signaled to us, and we are in the process of addressing them tonight.  Some of you have asked if we can have armed guards.  It is illegal in France for a private company or institution to hire armed guards—they can only be provided by the government. We remain in regular contact with the US Embassy, the French Prefecture, and the local Commissariat de Police.  The latter is currently providing regular rounds and extra protection to the University.

Yours in the struggle,

Celeste M. Schenck, President


Update: Sunday November 15 2015 at 6.30 p.m. Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

This will be my last update of the weekend, and it is mainly a reminder of safety guidelines for tomorrow’s return to campus. At the moment, we are down to fewer than 30 AUP students who have not checked in—largely because they did not update their cell phones on their profiles or haven’t responded to emails. We hope by tomorrow morning to report that everyone is accounted for. We believe that some of these students may be doing theses or internships elsewhere, but would still request that any enrolled AUP student check in using our survey form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin

It has been wonderful these past three days to receive such support for AUP from parents and alumni and students themselves. Faculty and staff came in today to help us man the phones and answer email queries. Hundreds of our families have sent encouraging emails.

As you, our parents and students, struggle with fear and anxiety about the attacks, I wanted to share with you, with her permission, a note from Sue Sturman, an AUP mother: “We have heard of some parents who have trepidations about allowing their children to remain in Paris due to this most recent crisis. I think our approach is to have confidence in AUP to do its best to care for and help students contextualize the events by providing a global view. Above all we have faith in our daughter's good sense, compassion, and judgment. We cannot, in the face of danger, continually retreat to the safety of our privileged lives, running from confronting conflict and its roots.”

One of our difficulties in communicating with you this weekend has been a result of students not having updated their profiles with latest cell and emergency numbers, despite our many exhortations to do so. Please take a moment to check your profile tonight and make sure we have the latest information for you and your parents. To update your current mobile number, email and mailing addresses, go to www.aup.edu – click on MY ACCOUNT – in the menu find “Addresses” and press the red edit button to edit the entry.

  • Local Address = Where are you living in Paris? YOU MUST ENTER YOUR FRENCH CELL PHONE NUMBER & YOUR NON-AUP EMAIL ADDRESS (PERSONAL EMAIL)
  • Home Address = What you consider your permanent address
  • FRP Address = Your financially responsible person
  • Emergency Contact = Whom to contact in an emergency situation? PLEASE ENTER NAME, EMAIL AND PHONE NUMBER OF YOUR CONTACT

As you return to Paris and to campus tomorrow, we recommend that you observe the following small changes to your behavior:

  1. Please keep your AUP ID on you at all times over the coming weeks, as well as a photocopy of your passport and titre de sejour.  Keep the last two in a safe place at home.  Emergency numbers are on the back of your student ID card.  Make sure you have our hotline number on you at all times and use it only in case of emergencies:  06 11 68 76 44.
  2. Avoid at present any large gatherings of people, such as concerts or sports events or manifestations.  When you go out in the evening, go with friends or a buddy.
  3. Connect immediately with the Student Affairs team if you are worried about any situation and/or your own safety.  We will have extra support in place to help you.
  4. Stay in regular telephone or e-mail contact with your friends and parents, as the media may magnify reports and create unnecessary worry.
  5. Notify your professors if for any reason you cannot attend classes.  
  6. Verify that your profile on MyAUP has been updated to include your cell phone number, personal email and emergency contacts (see above) as this is key to keeping direct contact with the University and receiving messages from us in a timely fashion. 
  7. Observe the travel safety tips posted on our website under the emergency banner.
  8. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, reporting anything suspicious to University authorities and/or the Police.
  9. Dress inconspicuously and do not call unnecessary attention to your nationality or affiliations.
  10. In case of further emergencies, STAY AT HOME and off the streets.  Follow the updates on our home page:  www.aup.edu and expect to hear from us by email and text.
  11. Keep abreast of the news and use common sense and good judgment in all situations—trust your instincts when it comes to safety issues and take no risks. 

Safe travels back to AUP, looking forward to seeing you all shortly, 

Celeste M. Schenck, President


Safety Tips for Traveling to and through Paris:  Sunday, November 15, 15h/3pm

Dear AUP Students,

As you return to Paris, you should be aware of and be prepared for the following:

1.  Borders are open but highly monitored.  Be sure you have your passports and visas, your AUP ID card to verify that you are a student in France, and the AUP emergency phone number:  +33 6 11 68 76 44 on your person in case of any problem.

2.  Once in Paris, you will observe a significant security presence.  Top tourist sites such as the Louvre are temporarily closed, and public gatherings are not yet permitted.  We suggest you keep a low profile on the streets of Paris and do not bring personal attention to yourself.

3.  Buses, the metro, and the RER are running.  As we would normally ask you to do in the evening, please exercise caution in public places and remain aware of your surroundings.  Travel with friends if possible.

4.  Keep your cell phone charged.  Update your parents and if need be AUP of your location and travel status.

5.  Keep emergency phone numbers in your cell phone contact list.  The emergency phone number for all of Europe is 112.  Once in Paris, dial 17 for police, 18 for firemen, and 15 for ambuulance.  Emergency numbers are on the back of your AUP ID card.

6.  Taxis and Ubers are up and running. Download the Uber app and you can reach Taxi G7 at 01 41 27 66 99.

7.  You must carry your AUP ID card with you on campus to enter any building (one card per student).  If you lose your card, replace it immediately at 118 St. Dominique.

8.  AUP has enhanced security at each of our campus facilities.  Build in a little extra time for security checks.  Please respect the guards at each building who are there to protect you and our community.

We hope this list will help and encourage you to be prudent and use common sense as you travel back to and around the city.

Travel safely!


Update: Sunday November 15 2015 at 1 p.m. Paris time

Dear AUP Students and Parents,

It is a remarkably sunny, warm morning in Paris, with neighbors going about their business, walking dogs, jogging in the parks, going to the market, and heading for various gatherings with friends and family.  You would not know the city had been so tragically attacked on Friday night.  Citizens of and visitors to Paris seem eager to see life get back to normal and are refusing to permit the teror of Friday evening's events to get in the way of resuming their routines and lives.  AUP is doing the same.  We have currently located all but 97 of our students, thanks to the help of many parents, faculty, and student government leaders who have been manning the phones and email.  If you still haven't filled in our survey allowing us to update our records automatically, please do so now:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin.

The crisis management team is currently on campus sending out updates, speaking with students and parents, answering queries, arranging to help students get back into the country, and planning for the week ahead.  You can reach members of the team today at +33 1 40 62 06 90.  After hours, in cases of emergency, you can always call the hotline:  +33 6 11 68 76 44.  We can also be reachd by email at studentaffairs@aup.edu.  We'll be monitoring that email box all week very closely.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch if we can offer any support, answer queries, or generally help with your return to campus.

Many of you will be returning today by all possible means--car, train, plane and even boat.  Be sure to have all your travel documents on you, such as personal identification, your AUP ID card to prove you are a student here, and the phone numbers mentioned above so that you can reach us.  Borders are tightly controlled but open.  Stay with your group if you have traveled out of the country together, and travel as well with at least one other sutdent as you go from train stations and airports to your apartments.  At all times make sure your parents know where you are by sending them text updates throughout your day of travel.  In the next couple of hours we'll put up a sheet of travel tips on the website under the emergency banner that can make your return easier.  Please continue to check the AUP website emergency banner on the home page of the website as you travel home.  And call our emergency number if you have any trouble at the border.

Barring any unforeseen developments over the course of the day, the University will open tomorrow (Monday, November 16) along with French schools and universities, and professors will be in their classrooms expecting to see you and support you.  We have asked faculty to postpone midterms and exams and to be available to speak to students who wish to talk about their expereince and the unfolding of recent events.  If for any reason you will not be back in Paris tomorrow, please notify us at studentaffairs@aup.edu first, and then advise your professors by email.  Some families have asked if we can arrange for students to complete their course in abstensia via Skype and/or internet.  We are a small university with a correspondingly small staff and cannot manage such requests, especially given the stress of the moment, for that kind of individualized adaptation of the academic program.  We will, however, accomodate students who return to classes a little later in the week so long as students doing so stay in daily touch by email with their professors.

When such devastating events transpire, it is completely normal to feel anxiety and concern about what has happened.  All of us, Parisians, expats, tourists, students, are struggling to understand Friday night's attacks.  Please know that we have put in place a counseling service on campus that will begin tomorrow. Psychologists on AUP's staff, trained clinicians from our psychology faculty, and counselors will be on duty from tomorrow morning at 8h30 am on the fourth floor of Combes in Student Development and at the President's office.  Please feel free to drop by at any time.  You do not need an appointment.  Should students need further, ongoing support, you will be referred to a psychologist within AUP's system, and this will of course by covered by your AUP insurance.

Please know that we have planned for heightened security on campus tomorrow, having added guards across campus.  We will be extraordinarily strict about entrance into AUP bulidings.  Come early and prepare to stand in line for a few moments as students badge in.  NO ONE WILL ADMITTED TO AN AUP BUILDING  WITHOUT A VALID AUP ID CARD and you will not be able to let other students in on your card.  Members of the crisis management team will also be in front of buildings to assist students, smooth out the process of returning to campus and to answer students' questions.  We are counting on you to show forbearance and patience with the guards who will be managing entrance into our buildings.  See earlier messages if you need to replace a lost ID card.

Later in the week, once everyone is safe back on campus, we will hold a collective event in recognition of the events.  Information on that commnity gathering will be circulated later.

It has been tremendously moving during this very difficult time in Paris to receive so many notes of support from AUP alumni worldwide, from AUP parents who have felt reassured by our communications, and from AUP's dedicated board, several of whom have spontaneously joined our crisis management team.  The powerful sense of community that defines the AUP extended family has grown ever stronger since Friday and is carrying us all forward during this challenging time.  Thanks to the support of so many, AUP remains unbowed.

As ever,

Celeste Schenck, President


Dear AUP Students and Parents,

At 19h/7pm this evening, we've been able to locate 989 of our 1173 students.  The fact that this is fall break and that many of you are traveling outside the country in different time zones has made it a bit more difficult than usual to reach everyone.  Our messages have gone out on Twitter, Facebook, email and text, and we're now following up by telephone to find the remaining students.  Please help us by sending any and all AUP students who may not have done so to fill in the survey that will automatically locate you on our lists:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin.

Along with leaders of the Student Government Association, who have been heroic, we've spoken with countless parents, student themselves, colleagues at other institutions, and friends who have been helping us all day to track down every member of the AUP community.  My warmest thanks to each of you for stepping up.

We are intending, along with French schools and universities, to reopen Monday for small-group meetings with professors that will provide a space in which students can talk about what we've all witnessed.  We will also have psychological support in place Monday for students who need it.  We feel the best way to deal with the situtation is to process it as a group, students with each other and with faculty.  At this moment, we are suggesting that all AUP students return to campus Monday.  If you plan to return later, please inform us at studentaffairs@aup.edu.  The French borders are open--although highly monitored--and trains, planes, ubers and taxis are all working.

Our crisis response team is monitoring the local news, the US Embassy alerts, and colleagues' decisions at sister American and French  insititutions over the weekend.  Should anything happen over the weekend that causes us to change our minds, we will immediately post it on our website and send it out by all possible channels.

We appreciate enormously all the expressions of support we've been receiving from parents and friends of the University.  This is a terribly sad moment for France, indeed for all of us who believe passionately in the values of cross-cultural understanding, freedom, religious tolerance, and peaceful resolution of conflicts.  AUP stands for those values more than anything else.  Our every thought is for our students and their families.  We seek nothing more than to make every current student feel safe and to support you as you return to campus.  Please continue to check the website and your email for daily updates.

Warmest,

Celeste Schenck, President

AUP students please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin so that you can check in with us and let us know where you are. Please also read the following letters to students and to parents from AUP President Celeste Schenck.


Dear AUP Students,

By now all of you have heard about the terrible events that took place in Paris last night. We are all stunned by what is yet another senseless, brutal attack on civilians by what the French President, declaring a state of emergency, has attributed to the Islamic State. At this writing we have no evidence that any AUP student was involved or harmed. As you know, the past three days and this weekend have been our fall break and the vast majority of you are either traveling or visiting family outside the country.

In the hours after the attacks, our first efforts were focused on locating each of you and ascertaining that you were safe. Beginning right after the attacks last night, we started communicating with you by all possible means—Twitter, FaceBook, email, and our AUP app—asking you to stay home, to stay at a friend’s home if you were out, and to stay off the streets of Paris, monitoring news as it was released by the French government. We instructed you to contact family and friends immediately to let them now that you were safe. We hope you have all done this.

We have decided NOT to open campus to large groups this weekend, feeling that you are safer in your homes. We have been in touch with many of you by telephone, by email and on social media.

Early this morning we sent out a survey to our entire student body (to your AUP and personal email accounts where we had them) asking you to report in to us that you are safe, and to give us your current location, cell phone numbers, etc. Within the hour half our students had reported in, and more are coming in every minute. Please do not isolate yourself—be sure a friend or buddy knows where you are at all times. Please keep your phones and computers charged at all times and follow events closely. Security messages are also going up on the AUP website and will be updated frequently. If you haven’t yet filled in the survey, please click on this link and do so immediately. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin

At the moment, and barring any further instructions from the French authorities, we are opening campus Monday. We have asked faculty to use class time to meet in small groups with you to talk about the events and their impact. We will also have psychological support in place for any students who wish to talk more about what has happened. We are arranging additional security at all our buildings on Monday.

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR AUP ID CARD ON YOU TO ENTER ANY OF OUR BUILDINGS. IF YOU HAVE LOST YOUR ID, go to the Current Students portal, click on quick links, campus security, lost and stolen ID cards. You have to be logged in to get to the lost and stolen ID cards link.

While the border control has been strengthened across France, the borders are open and students holding valid passports and visas should have no trouble returning. Trains are working and airports are open. Feel free to contact us at student affairs@aup.edu or—in cases of emergency—on our security hotline: +33 6 1168 7644

Our every preoccupation is with your safety and wellbeing. Please let us know where, and how, you are.

Warmest, Celeste

Celeste M. Schenck
President


Dear AUP Parents,

By now all of you have heard about the terrible events that took place in Paris last night. We are all stunned by what is yet another senseless, brutal attack on civilians by what the French President, declaring a state of emergency, has attributed to the Islamic State. At this writing we have no evidence that any AUP student was involved or harmed. The past three days and this weekend have been AUP's fall break and the vast majority of our students are either traveling or visiting family outside the country.

In the hours after the attacks, our first efforts were focused on locating each of our students and ascertaining that they were safe. Beginning right after the attacks last night, we started communicating with our students by all possible means—Twitter, FaceBook, email, and our AUP app—asking them to stay home, to stay at a friend’s home if they were out, and to stay off the streets of Paris, monitoring news as it was released by the French government. We instructed them to contact family and friends immediately to let you know they were safe. We have decided NOT to open campus to large groups of people this weekend, feeling that everyone is safer in their homes than in large groups of people. We are in touch with many students by telephone, by email and on social media.

Early this morning we sent out a survey to our entire student body (to AUP and personal email accounts where we had them) asking them to report in to us that they are safe, and to give us their current location, cell phone numbers, etc. We asked if any had been near any of the sites struck last night, and provided emergency numbers and contact information for reaching us. Within the hour half our students had reported in, and more are coming in every minute.

May we ask you to forward this email to your son or daughter, requesting that they follow the link below to fill in our survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AUPcheckin

At the moment, and barring any further instructions from the French authorities, we are opening the campus Monday, but we have asked faculty to use class time to meet in small groups with their students to talk about the events. This will give students time to “land” and time to process the impact of the events with their teachers. We will also have psychological support in place for students on Monday as well. We are arranging additional security at all our buildings on Monday. Please remind your child that they MUST have their AUP ID cards on them to enter buildings.

While the border control has been strengthened across France, the borders are open and students holding valid passports and visas should have no trouble returning. Trains are working and airports are open. Feel free to contact us at student affairs@aup.edu or—in cases of emergency—on our security hotline: +33 6 1168 7644

Thank you for the trust you have placed in us to educate your child, and know that we will communicate regularly with you in the days and hours ahead during which our every preoccupation is with the safety and wellbeing of our students.

Warmest, Celeste

Celeste M. Schenck
President