HUFFINGTON POST

Brussels Universities Scramble To Help Students Stranded After Attacks

Some schools asked people to carpool or take in students who couldn't leave campus after classes were canceled.
Université Libre de Bruxelles used a Google Doc to organize places for people to stay who were not able to evacuate Br
Université Libre de Bruxelles used a Google Doc to organize places for people to stay who were not able to evacuate Brussels. Shown here is the clock tower of the ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels.

The terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday prompted universities in and around the city to cancel classes and to organize transportation and shelter for students who were stranded as mass transit there shut down

At least 32 people were killed and about 270 injured in two attacks Tuesday, one at the Brussels airport and the other at the Maelbeek metro station. Air traffic in the city was suspended through at least Wednesday

With transportation options limited, universities in the area encountered complications in canceling classes.

Police block access to the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels after explosions in the city.
Police block access to the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels after explosions in the city.

The Université Libre de Bruxelles evacuated its campus following the attacks Tuesday. It encouraged students to find rides home via carpools and tried to help find places to stay for those who couldn't leave the area. 

ULB asked students and staff to "show solidarity by offering lifts In their cars, in such a way that everyone can return home safely," according to a translation of its statement that was made in French.  

For those who couldn't leave, the university began circulating a Google Doc through social media to share names of people who agreed to offer a place for others to stay while transit is down. By 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, more than 150 people had signed up to host those who couldn't leave the campus. 

Some local trams and buses, as well as Belgian trains, resumed operation Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, other schools in the area canceled classes out of precaution, noting there were no specific threats to educational institutions. 

Erasmushogeschool Brussel canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday, and said it was still deciding whether to reopen this week. Similar to ULB, it asked that people carpool to help everyone leave the campus and for drivers to "take as many students as you can."

Haute Ecole Francisco Ferrer in Brussels did not shut down, but advised students to exercise caution. Any students "present in the compound of the school are invited to stay there," the school said on Facebook, noting that educational activities would continue. 

Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles asked students on campus to ensure they had proper identification cards if they stayed near the school. LUCA School of Arts said it was canceling classes, and the Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Bruxelles canceled concerts scheduled for Tuesday. 

Belgian soldiers and police stand at a cordon set to limit the number of people allowed into the central station in Brussels
Belgian soldiers and police stand at a cordon set to limit the number of people allowed into the central station in Brussels on Tuesday following coordinated attacks at the airport serving the Belgian capital and on its Metro system.

Belgian universities outside the city reacted to the attacks by urging caution. Université de Mons, located about 45 miles from Brussels, sent a message to students that classes and research would continue as scheduled. Université Catholique de Louvain canceled all classes and extra-curricular activities in Brussels and canceled just extra-curricular activities at its other campuses. Université de Liège said it would not cancel classes or other activities but that students and faculty should be on alert.

This article was updated Wednesday after officials revised casualty numbers.

Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter covering higher education, and is based in New York. You can contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com, or on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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