College in contact with students in Spain and France following travel ban

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Students cross the intersection of Boylston St. and Tremont St.

By Aaron J. Miller, Print Editor

Sophomore John Raffaele III woke up Thursday morning to unexpected news–the president of the United States had issued a ban on travel from Europe by non-U.S. residents. Raffaele is currently studying in Valencia, Spain, through Berklee College of Music. 

“A lot of people were up at 3 a.m. because of the news,” Raffaele said in a phone interview from his dorm in Valencia. “A lot of people panicked and bought flights. I had a flight scheduled for May 9 but rescheduled it.”

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday a ban of all travel to and from Europe, with the exclusion of the United Kingdom. The Department of Homeland Security immediately tweeted a statement and said the ban does not affect United States citizens, their families, or permanent residents.

In a statement sent to The Beacon Thursday evening, Director of Communications and Media Relations Michelle Gaseau said the college’s Internationalization and Global Engagement Office has been in contact with all students studying abroad in Europe, including the Berklee School of Music program with which Raffaele is involved.

“Emerson has instructed all study abroad students throughout Europe to make immediate arrangements to return to their permanent residence as soon as possible,” Gaseau said in the statement. “US citizens are exempt from the recent Schengen Area travel ban that begins March 13 and can opt for a return flight after Friday, March 13 if necessary, however, the college encourages students to return home as soon as is feasible.”

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Gaseau also said Berklee recommended all students depart Spain on or before Wednesday, March 18.

Raffaele said college officials at the study abroad program announced Thursday morning the termination of the semester and told students they had to depart from the campus by March 19. He also said neither Berklee nor Emerson are assisting in purchasing transportation.

Raffaele said the price of a ticket from Valencia to Boston Thursday morning cost upwards of 7,000 USD, a 13 times increase from the average one-way ticket in March. However, he said he was fortunate to be able to reschedule his originally planned return flight in May to Saturday, March 14. The flight, which was scheduled to go from Valencia to Zurich, Switzerland, and then to Boston, was canceled. 

Raffaele said approximately 14 of the 100 students studying in Valencia with Berklee College of Music study abroad program are from Emerson, a significant increase from the one student who participated in the program last semester. 

In a phone interview Wednesday night, President M. Lee Pelton said the college is working immediately to bring Emerson students out of Europe. 

Raffaele said he is still working with his parents to arrange a flight back from Europe. He also said he does not look forward to his music classes transitioning from a classroom setting to online.

“My classes will be online now and that’s unfortunate,” Raffaele said.