As the United States continues its war with Iraq, Yale officials responsible for summer study abroad programs and fellowships said they are keeping a close eye on the situation abroad, but said they expect most summer programs to proceed as planned.
The current conflict, as well as previous threats to American security — such as the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — have prompted several initiatives that administrators hope will ensure the safety of students abroad. In the upcoming week, the University Committee on International Education will release a list of travel restrictions and warnings, and a new “Health and Safety for Yale Undergraduates Traveling Abroad” Web site will go online.
Associate Director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies and committee secretary Nancy Ruther said she did not think the Yale-run summer programs were in locations that would be on the restricted list. She said in the hypothetical situation that a city connected to a program was on the watch list, those in charge of the program would be asked to have alternative plans ready, in case the situation became more serious.
Ruther said the committee has worked for the past two months on the travel advisory policy, which it plans to update throughout the year as situations change.
“We certainly don’t want to stop people from traveling — that’s not our goal. We want to help people to travel more safely,” she said.
Director of Yale Summer Programs William Whobrey said he was keeping in close contact with the committee and Director of International Education and Fellowship Programs Barbara Rowe about summer programs.
“We monitor the situation and based on what the University is telling us, we make the decision whether or not to cancel the course,” he said. “Any time you have study abroad, you’re concerned with safety, and that’s more or less irregardless of the international situation, and we do have contingency plans.”
Rowe said it is possible that the restrictions could affect students applying for fellowships but that IEFP would help students modify their arrangements if necessary.
“Most of the countries on the list are places that either there are no programs or students aren’t planning to study there,” she said. “We still have fellowships coming in — Hopefully if students apply for countries that might be on the list, we might be able to help them develop alternative plans.”
Rowe said she feels confident that students are well-advised on their safety and said IEFP has been in touch with study abroad programs about the issue. Last year, Yale invested in an blanket security policy for students abroad to cover medical emergencies and evacuations.
Yale-in-London coordinator Jo-Ann Forslund said students are normally notified of safety procedures, but said this year’s situation abroad might require additional information. She also said she was worried that students might not put down their deposit, due April 1, because of safety concerns.
“This program started before the war,” she said. “Now things are different. I’m sure [the University is] going to come up with something to make parents feel comfortable about their kids going over.”