UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: UP alumna and former Beacon editor Rosemary Peters ('12) is getting her business masters degree in London, and was just two miles away from Westminster Palace in class when her phone buzzed with news of the event. She sent this statement to The Beacon:
"I was deeply saddened when I heard the news of the event. London is my home. It hurts me to see her hurting, and it just kills me to think that we are living in a world where one human can commit such a violent act against another for what feels like no good reason. My heart goes out to the families who sent their sons and daughters and husbands and wives out into the world today, and now may never see them alive again.
Moreover, the incident happened in one of the most iconic and meaningful places not only in London, but in the world. Westminster Palace and the surrounding area is steeped in significantly important world history. This event is all the more salient because of that.
Finally, it was so eerie to go home and watch the news. I had just been outside of Westminster Palace over the weekend -- I was taking an exam around the corner from the location where the event happened on Saturday. Also, the perspective of one of the main videos that was shot of the event as it was happening (I believe a Taiwanese tourist uploaded some video to the internet if you want to look for it) was from a location I know well. I have stood in that very spot many times over the last five years. It was one of the first places I first went when I moved to London.
As for being able to go out since, I have not felt fearful. Tragedies happen, but we can't stop living our lives out of fear. Fear is what the people behind this atrocity were aiming to instill today, and we shouldn't give them that."
UPDATE 12:50 p.m.: Sophomore business major Kaitlin Flanigan is studying abroad in London this semester, but is currently traveling in Italy for Spring Break. She got word of the attack from news updates on her phone at around 4 p.m. (GMT+1).
She said she's been in touch with her friends and family to let them know she's safe, but the "severity" of the event has yet to fully sink in.
"My immediate response was honestly shock," Flanigan told The Beacon in an email. "We have been told how safe London is and how, since there are strict gun laws, they have a really low crime rate. Since I have been in London I have constantly felt safe everywhere I go. I couldn't believe something like this would happen anywhere, let alone London."
Representatives of the study abroad program in London have been in touch with her as updates to the situation have been released, Flanigan said.
"It's pretty surreal that something like this happened when I am over here," Flanigan said. "You always hear about things like this happening in the news, but they seem so distant. But know it's happened in my current 'home'. It really puts things in perspective and gives you time to think about how we never know what is going to happen.
All University of Portland students currently studying abroad in London have been accounted for and are safe following what is being called a terrorist attack in the city early Wednesday, according to UP Director of Studies Abroad Eduardo Contreras.
Four people have died and others are injured after an attacker drove through a crowd on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament, according to BBC News. The dead include the police officer and the attacker, who was shot by police.
Contreras said the director of the study abroad program in London was in contact with students following news of the attack.
"After today’s attack at the UK Parliament, Amanda and her team in London have confirmed the safety of all GEO students currently on the Liberal Arts program," the program director, Ben Callaway, said in an email statement. "This is the week of their mid-term break so many students are currently traveling outside of London and have all left their travel itineraries with the London Center staff. Those that remained in the area have all been contacted by the London Center."
The Beacon will continue to provide updates on this situation throughout the day.