Summer programs in Mexico canceled

Due to concerns arising from the recent swine flu outbreak in Mexico, Yale administrators announced Tuesday that they will not hold either the Yale Summer Session course in Mexico or the International Bulldogs internship program, both of which are hosted by the university Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey Tech).

The decision was made after officials at Monterrey Tech requested that Yale postpone the program until summer 2010, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said. Nineteen students were planning to participate in the two programs, and the University has offered to help the affected students find alternative programs for the summer, Dean of International Affairs Jane Edwards said.

“I wish that it hadn’t been necessary to do this,” she said.

In an email sent to all affected students Tuesday, Edwards told the students that they will be able to apply to open positions within the International Bulldogs program and the Bulldogs Across America program, apply to non-Yale-based study abroad programs or take courses at Yale through the summer session program. Affected students can set up appointments with counselors at the Center for International Experience and Undergraduate Career Services, she said, adding that the majority of the affected students have already done so.

Administrators are also barring undergraduates from using Yale fellowships and grants to travel to Mexico, following the U.S. State Department’s standing travel advisory urging American citizens to limit non-essential travel to the country. Tuesday’s decision does not apply to students planning to study abroad in Mexico during the 2009-’10 academic year, Edwards added.

While UCS Director Phil Jones described the decision as a “big disappointment for everybody,” he said UCS is working to find the best alternatives available for students.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to accommodate students,” he said. “We’ve been … working one on one with students to try and figure out what else we can do to minimize their disappointment for the summer.”

Regardless of whether they end up going abroad, Yale students on financial aid who received an International Summer Award to pay for the programs will still receive the summer earnings grant, which covers the expected student income contribution for the summer. Students who do not go abroad this summer will be eligible to receive a second International Summer Award, which is customarily given to students only once while at Yale.

Twelve students were set to participate in the Bulldogs in Monterrey program, while seven had enrolled in the “Public Health in Action” course in Monterrey.

Dan Geoffrion ’10, who would have been working as a Bulldogs intern at the Ministry of Economic Development in Mexico, said he feels that the decision to not to hold the program was made too soon, because he believes swine flu has been less severe than anticipated.

“It seems like fears were overblown,” he said. “I got an e-mail from my boss today saying we’re looking forward to seeing you in a couple weeks. It’s very frustrating and very disappointing.”

But Naomi Rogers, an associate professor in the history of medicine department who specializes in the history of infectious outbreaks, said Yale has acted prudently by deciding not to hold the program this year.

“I think this decision represents Yale’s thoughtful efforts to protect its students at a time and in a situation where not much can be done,” she said. “It is measured and not extreme, and compares favorably to responses [from] officials in China and Hong Kong who are quarantining not only travelers from Mexico, but also Mexicans living in these countries.”

Jeremy Poindexter ’11, who would have worked as a research assistant through the Bulldogs program at Monterrey Tech, said the timing of the decision was unfortunate but understandable, given that Yale did not have control over the matter. Still, he said, because the decision came during the final exam period, he and other students must now scramble to find a summer job. Poindexter said he appreciated the University’s willingness to offer help.

While Monterrey Tech is currently closed, an alert on the university’s Web site informs all members of its academic community that the university will reopen on May 7.

Florence Dethy and Paul Needham contributed reporting.


  • Undergrad

    Really? This seems unnecessary and almost irresponsible of Yale, to buy into the excessive caution, denying already-committed Yalies of a great opportunity and by extension incidentally kicking Mexico when they're down.

  • Anonymous

    No, it's a rational and responsible decision. Swine flu has killed perfectly healthy young adults who were traveling in Mexico, where thousands are still infected. Allowing Yalies to travel to Mexico puts the entire campus at risk too. It was the only decision.

  • wondering

    Wouldn't it be better to have extended the students (who are adults) the option of not going or going? The students who choose not to go getting the same treatment that Yale is offering now (summer stipend & the option to go next year). Lets be realistic, in a month's time given the spread of the swine flu in the United States, will avoiding Mexico really decrease their chances of catching it that significantly? What are the models for the spread and infection rates in the United States vs Mexico in the time frame in question? That is what is at issue. If the difference is huge, I understand Yale's decision as risk to the society would be large. If it is not then it should be left to the individual as risk to the society is small.

  • y10

    They should ban all travel to countries that have high incidences of traffic fatalities, like Turkey. Those are about 100 times more likely to kill Yalies who are traveling.

  • yale 08

    Swine flu hysteria is absurd.

    Think of how many people die from the HEAT in the summer?

    How many people die in car accidents?

    This is a joke.

  • Close Reader

    It appears it was the Mexican hosts who decided to cancel, NOT Yale…

    "The decision was made after officials at Monterrey Tech requested that Yale postpone the program until summer 2010, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said."

  • Yale PhD

    Unfortunately, students, there is a 25+ year gap in basic biology research that could have lead to development of flu treatments other than the tradional genetic-based vaccines.

  • It's here

    Two words:

    Zombie. Apocalypse.

  • Anonymous

    Finally, I get to kick some zombie ass!

  • US Department of State

    Travel Advisory to Mexico No Longer in Effect: Party On!

  • Great Decision

    This way Americans won't unnecessarily put Mexicans in danger. N1H1 is now primarily a U.S. disease after all.