With rising tensions in the Middle East, students wishing to study abroad in Israel this year will have to do it on their own — without University support.
After considering State Department warnings, Yale administrators decided last spring not to help students go to Israel — including the West Bank and Gaza Strip — through fellowships or study abroad programs. This summer, Yale also decided not to allow students to study in India or Pakistan.
Because there is no general policy at Yale regarding State Department warnings, the University Advisory Committee on International Education is hoping to submit a proposal to Yale Provost Alison Richard by the end of the semester, Yale Center for International and Area Studies director Gustav Ranis said.
Ranis, who is leading the advisory committee, said the University currently follows State Department warnings seriously. But in the future, Yale might decide to heed some warnings and not others, or distinguish between undergraduates and graduate students.
“We haven’t yet decided when we can afford to modify [the State Department warnings],” he said. “We expect to meet very soon to create a Yale policy in response to crises that arise.”
Ranis said the committee and the University are aware that the policy could concievably get in the way of students’ educational ambitions.
“Certainly, what we want to do is ensure the safety of students and at the same time be sensitive to the needs of students to go on with their studies,” he said.
Recently, few students have expressed interest in studying in Israel, said Linda De Laurentis, an International Education and Fellowship Programs study abroad adviser.
“The history has been that as the situation has escalated in Israel, the number of applicants has been cut back,” she said.
Karyn Jones, another IEFP study abroad adviser, said she thought most students’ parents were discouraging them from studying abroad in countries for which the State Department has issued warnings.
“I think parents are catching them before they even get to us,” she said.
IEFP Director Barbara Rowe said she is concerned about the next step in the process — making students aware of Yale’s study abroad policies.
“The issue is that, if in fact Yale is going to make these decisions, we have to have a better way of announcing them to the students,” she said.
Rowe said the University is developing a health and safety Web site, which could include Yale travel policies and State Department warnings. The Yale College Dean’s Office, University Health Services, Yale-in-London and YCIAS are working with IEFP to create the Web site.
Rowe said she hopes the University will look more closely at advisories from other countries because they often have different perspectives on travel safety.
“One of the things we’re talking about is seeing, ‘What is the British government saying? What are our faculty saying? What are professionals saying?” she said. “We want to cast the net more broadly.”