Let No Ivy Leaguer Be Left Behind

From the ABC News Website: Investigative

Ivy Leaguers Leave Lebanon First and Fast Through Private Security Firms

July 21, 2006 9:47 AM

Ingrid Anid, Astrid Hill & Lara Setrakian Report:

When fighting broke out in Lebanon, college students studying there for the summer anxiously awaited their turn to evacuate. As it turns out, if you were an Ivy League student in Beirut, your turn came first.Among those enrolled in the summer Arabic program at the American University of Beirut, students told ABC News, those from Harvard, Yale and Princeton were in the first group evacuated – by high-end private security firms. Students from other American schools were left behind, waiting it out for days while the U.S. embassy formulated its plan.

A.G. Leventhal, a Junior and Near Eastern Languages concentrator at Harvard University, was enrolled in summer classes at AUB when bombs began falling on southern Beirut. Leventhal was immediately  contacted by Harvard and informed of the International SOS service, which would begin evacuation the next day.

While Leventhal and his cohorts were being bussed or flown to safety, other students were told to stay put as bombs falling nearby shook their dorm rooms.

The students left behind recall their frustration and a feeling of isolation. One student who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons said, “It was unfair that the private, wealthy schools were afforded the luxury of a quick evacuation.” Both her university and her government, she says, failed to help her out of a dangerous situation.

With the growth in American students studying abroad in the Middle East, some schools are turning to private security companies to protect their students where they cannot.

Harvard, Princeton and Yale are insured by International SOS and Medex, two private security companies.

Arriving with well-equipped teams, these companies arranged everything for students from land- and air-route evacuations, to hotel rooms, to cold bottles of water at the Syrian border.

“International SOS did a fantastic job,” says Robert Mitchell, Director of Communications at Harvard University.

Customer satisfaction with the American government: not quite so high.

The Beirut situation “has shown how horrible the State Department has been in evacuating people…keeping people informed and not causing a state of panic,” wrote Leventhal in an e-mail to ABC News.

In a public announcement, the State Department stated, “The U.S. Government is using all resources possible to facilitate the speedy and safe departure of American citizens currently in Lebanon using every means available.”

But luckily for Leventhal, his Harvard status kept him safer, sooner.

July 21, 2006

User Comments:

Yeah right….We all  want to go to the back of the line. Dialog…”No please, go first I insist, I’ll stay behind and deal with the bombs”. Anger management, with panic, as we push and shove in line at McDonalds for a hamburger.

Posted by: botcha-galoop | Jul 21, 2006 1:17:34 PM

Just another example of the privilaged life of rich kids, in this case they get to live, while others may die. Also – shows how a private company can beat govt. agencies anytime.

Posted by: stu | Jul 21,  2006 2:04:35 PM

It just gose to show that if the money is right you get what you want… I guss there wasnt enough room for the rest of the students to get on….

Posted by: kellen smith | Jul 21, 2006 3:34:46 PM

GO USA!! it seems like the Katrina factor all over again

Posted by: john | Jul 21, 2006 4:11:14 PM

Sure, that’s screwed up. But conflating membership in the Ivy League with wealth is ignorant.

Posted by: x | Jul 21, 2006 5:18:05 PM

nothing here indicates individual wealth but institutional health. i applaud harvard et al for spending the cash necessary to protect its students. many students at ivy league schools receive scholarships to attend. these kids are lucky because their universities put money into security, not (necessarily / always) because they’re sucking silver spoons. don’t blame them for being in an opportune situation; that’s just stupid.

Posted by: columbia kid | Jul 21, 2006 5:20:12 PM

Yes, this seems elitist and awful. but also, ivy league kids (or their parents) pay a godawful amount of money to put their kids in those schools. If i were paying ivy league prices for my kid to study in lebanon, you’d better be sure i’d expect that with such a heavy price tag my child would be bought a first-class ticket out of their if her life was in danger.

Posted by: ryan | Jul 21, 2006 5:31:01 PM

People should concentrate their concerns on the the lacking govt reponse (per usual) more than they should be concerned with the services that somebody’s study abroad tuition provides. Further – its highly likely that if Harvard wouldn’t have done it, one of the students’ parents would have called up their security firm and had it done. Maybe GW will be lucky and get the regional war he’s been gunning for!

Posted by: Grady | Jul 21, 2006 5:41:33 PM

The rich are different. So what else is new…

By the way, the Ivy League schools don’t cost any more or less than most private schools. It’s just that the kids who get in tend to be from very wealthy families.

Posted by: Carmen | Jul 21, 2006 9:21:45 PM

More than half of Princeton’s students receive financial aid. Princeton does not require students to take out loans, instead providing grants and on campus jobs. The annual bill fits the needs and capabilities of the student and their family. As an alumn, I am overwhelming proud of this fact, and very glad Princeton provides such outstanding opportunities for our students, and the foresight to keep them safe.

Posted by: Tiger | Jul 21, 2006 9:37:02 PM

Conflating Ivy League status with wealth isn’t all that outrageous…and I doubt the current Oval Office occupant didn’t go to Yale and Harvard on his mental abilities.

Daniel Gross, Slate, Jan. 12, 2005:”Something has changed about the character of the student bodies at many Ivy League schools in recent decades. With the rising ability of the wealthy to smooth the path to admission by paying private-school tuition and hiring college advisers and SAT-prep tutors and with college tuition far outpacing financial aid growth rich kids are more likely to get in, and to attend, Ivy League schools than in the past. A widely quoted study from the Century Foundation found that 74 percent of the students at 146 selective colleges surveyed came from the top socioeconomic quartile, while only 10 percent come from the bottom half! Harvard President Larry Summers devoted his 2004 commencement speech to this phenomenon. On a percentage basis, fewer Ivy League graduates than public school graduates today need to find stable, high-paying jobs at big companies. More of them can afford to traipse around Asia for a year or pursue a career in film-making. It could be that the already rich and comfortable are simply less interested in pursuing careers in large corporations than their less-comfortable public-school peers for purely economic reasons.”

Posted by: BRD | Jul 21, 2006 11:54:58 PM

What is going on you people at ABC and the comments section? I think you are very much uninformed regarding the SOS evacuation insurance. These policies are very cheap considering what they do. These policies are NOT just for IVY LEAGUERS, so please stop the class warfare, OK?

When students at my little Iowa university travel abroad for academic purposes, they ALL get insurance. A policy for a student is about $140 a month. It covers medical evacuation as well as evacuation in wartime as well. So, if you get really ill in some foreign hell hole – you will get flown back to the US/Europe. Or, if you are stuck in some proxy war between the US and Iran, SOS will come and get you!!!

I think that the students who DIDN’T get insurance were total idiots. My dear sweet Jesus….. they were going to BEIRUIT for  gawd’s sake.

Students who did not get an evacuation policy were just trying to save money. I feel bad for these people, but they had a choice.

Please, end the class warfare and let’s consider the REAL war.

Posted by: Tom Riedmiller | Jul 22, 2006 2:26:40 AM

Ryan said:

“Yes, this seems elitist and awful. but also, ivy league kids (or their parents) pay a godawful amount of money to put their kids in those schools. If i were paying ivy league prices for my kid to study in lebanon, you’d better be sure i’d expect that with such  a heavy price tag my child would be bought a first-class ticket out of their if her life was in danger.”

Golly, Ryan, it DOES seem a wee bit elitist and awful, now that you mention it.Say, here’s an idea: if your upper crust male offspring ever take a cruise, why don’t you pack some dresses and wigs in their suitcases. That way, if there should be a problem mid-ocean, when the crew says, “Women and children first!” your far-more-important-than-the-rest-of-us progeny can jump into the first lifeboat.

Don’t worry, we working class scum will understand the need for the product of your 24 karat gold-plated seed to evacuate before us. We’ll go happily to our watery graves in the knowledge that our betters will survive.

Posted by: Cranky Media Guy | Jul 22, 2006 4:14:10 AM

If I were a parent with a kid in a situation like this, I’d spend every penny I had to get them out. Thank god Havard, et al view their responsibilities as a parent and did not leave their students up to the government (look at this administration, would you?). The focus should be on the OTHER college who put their students in a situation like this and are doing nothing. Why are you trying to blame those who acted?

Posted by: TM | Jul 22, 2006 7:00:28 AM

The real issue is the demented foreign policy that the USA carries out in the Middle East; it is as demented as the American government’s reponse to evacuating its own from Lebanon.

Posted by: Lesyk | Jul 22, 2006 7:21:44 AM

Most people will laugh at this, but there are those who understand. It’s the illuminati at work. Yale, Harvard, and Princeton are schools where U.S. presidents have been “tapped” – in other words, “chosen”. George W. Bush and many elected officials belong to secret societies connected with these schools – like the Skull and Bones society. These societies are the works of Masons – the unseen force behind “your” government. They control the money and protect their own.

Posted by: Mark Vander Lugt | Jul 22, 2006 11:02:46 AM

Well it seems that Harvard, Yale and Princeton have a good understanding of the geo-political situation in Lebanon and took it far enough to protect its students.Too bad the other schools did not advise their students of the dangers in the ME. To say that this is the advantages of wealth is nothing more than spoiled milk. You want to go visit areas of this planet where one walks the edge of the envelope without a SoS plan and then complaint because the USG has  to make you wait a little while so it can deal with all 25,000 Americans is really a very lazy and shallow argument.Its your responsibility to be prepared. Not just abroad but here at home as well.

Posted by: SpecCat | Jul 22, 2006 12:41:56 PM

the ivy league is perhaps the most misunderstood myth in american culture. to say that the it is only for the richest of the rich is malarkey. i go to yale, and sometimes i am so poor that i cant pay my cellphone bill on time. and there are many folks like me here.what the situation does reveal, however, is that HYP are  elite private institutions that function with greater finesse than our very government. simply put, it exposes just how slow and unproductive our government can be.to the US government all i have to say is: “i dont wanna hear, i dont wanna know. please dont say youre sorry.”

Posted by: A Yalie from the Ghetto | Jul 22, 2006 3:17:23 PM

As a future student at an Ivy League school, I can by all means attest to the fact that I am by no means wealthy. Criticizing Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for looking out for the welfare of their students is absolutely ridiculous. If your child was in the same situation, wouldn’t you  want his or her alma mater to do the same?

Posted by: FutureIvyLeaguer | Jul 22, 2006 7:45:26 PM

The gentleman from Princeton shocked me, as did some other folks on this site, with the naive belief that “Ivy League” doesn’t correlate totally with “rich.” I teach at an Ivy League University and the scholarships we can offer barely make a dent in the crippling six-figure costs over four years. A few poor kids, thank God, get a free ride, but middle-class kids are not coming to these schools, and, arguably, they’d be pretty selfish if they did, since it would mean their parents couldn’t afford vacations, nice clothes or a secure retirement.

What happened in Beirut was  “The Titanic” all over again — only the rich got lifeboats.