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Students abroad address attack in Münster

%28Top%2C+left+to+right%29+Matthew+Lensing+%28%2720%29%2C+Anthony+Perez+Soto+%28%2720%29%2C+++Iris+Johnson+%28%E2%80%9820%29%2C++Madeleine+Flom-Staab+%28%2720%29%2C+C+J+Heck+%28%2719%29++%28Bottom%2C+left+to+right%29+Kia+Feia+%28%2719%29%2C+Taylor+Gaide+%28%2718%29%2C+Samantha+Headington+%28%2720%29%2C+and+Hillary+Gardner+%28%2718%29+are+all+a+part+of+the+Munster+semester.+
(Top, left to right) Matthew Lensing ('20), Anthony Perez Soto ('20),   Iris Johnson (‘20),  Madeleine Flom-Staab ('20), C J Heck ('19)  (Bottom, left to right) Kia Feia ('19), Taylor Gaide ('18), Samantha Headington ('20), and Hillary Gardner ('18) are all a part of the Munster semester.

(Top, left to right) Matthew Lensing ('20), Anthony Perez Soto ('20), Iris Johnson (‘20), Madeleine Flom-Staab ('20), C J Heck ('19) (Bottom, left to right) Kia Feia ('19), Taylor Gaide ('18), Samantha Headington ('20), and Hillary Gardner ('18) are all a part of the Munster semester.

Photo courtesy C J Heck ('19)

Photo courtesy C J Heck ('19)

(Top, left to right) Matthew Lensing ('20), Anthony Perez Soto ('20), Iris Johnson (‘20), Madeleine Flom-Staab ('20), C J Heck ('19) (Bottom, left to right) Kia Feia ('19), Taylor Gaide ('18), Samantha Headington ('20), and Hillary Gardner ('18) are all a part of the Munster semester.

Forrest Stewart, Staff Writer

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Luther students and faculty living in Münster, Germany participating in the Münster semester were present in the city during the attack on April 7. All Luther students and faculty are safe and the Center for Global Learning has mechanisms in place to ensure student safety abroad during crises.

On April 7, a van drove into a crowd in Münster killing two people and injuring 20 others, according to local officials. The incident appeared to have been a deliberate attack and the driver of the van killed himself before law enforcement arrived at the scene. Police say they found no evidence that the driver was motivated by either political or religious ideology but that the man had a history of suicidal thoughts and mental illness.

At the time of the attack, nine Luther students, Professor of German Sören Steding, and Associate Professor of German Elizabeth Steding were in Münster for Luther’s semester abroad program.

CJ Heck (‘19) was attending a barbecue when the incident occurred and heard about it through word of mouth.

“It was just a sunny afternoon,” Heck said. “And then someone came out of the house and said ‘Did you hear what happened?’”

Because it was a Saturday, the students were spread out throughout the city.

Executive Director of the Center for Global Learning Jon Lund monitored the situation from Luther using information systems designed to help inform travelers of potentially dangerous situations.

“We check a couple different systems that help give us an idea of security situations around the world,” Lund said. “This year we’ve implemented a system called Alert Traveler and we’ve encouraged students to download it to their phones. It allows [students] to gain realtime information pushed to their phones as situations occur.”

“We have it set so that any time we have a Luther student, faculty, or staff member [in an impacted area] we get an update that comes by email or text message,” Lund said. “The update will tell us about the situation we should be aware of and how many impacted travelers there are.”

Lund added that the system is able to alert travelers very quickly which aided the Center for Global Learning’s response.

“The alert [about the attack in Münster] actually came out about five minutes before any of the news media was reporting it,” Lund said. “Within 30 minutes we had identified that [the students, their host families, and faculty members] were all fine.”

Because the driver of the van had no known ties to political or religious ideologies that might have motivated the attack, the incident is not officially considered an act of terror. Heck noted that this was a relief for students in Münster.

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