College Lifts Ban on Unaccompanied International Travel

Sarah Cornett

After a three-year ban, students next year will be able to travel internationally with the support of the college.

The unaccompanied international travel ban for Whitman students and clubs will be lifted for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The ban, implemented in 2010, prevented college-financed travel for individual students and organizations.

Kayvon at the ASWC Senate meeting on March 31.  Photos by cade beck.
President Kayvon Behroozian at the ASWC Senate meeting on March 31. Photo by cade beck.

ASWC President Kayvon Behroozian learned of the news from Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland on Thursday, though it was just announced in a ASWC press release early Sunday, March 31. He attributed the policy change primarily to the efforts of ASWC.

“ASWC has been working on this for three years,” he said.

In an email to students on Thursday, March 28, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Noah Leavitt wrote that the Student Engagement Center is opening up the Whitman Internship Grant to applicants looking to do intenrships in Canada this summer––a seemingly small but noteworthy step. The grant offers a $2,400 stipend to students working in unpaid internships after an application. Before Thursday, these internships were required to be in the United States. Canada stands as the first non-domestic destination offered to funded internship applicants, serving as the beginning of the broader opening of destinations abroad.

“As of Thursday, Canada is considered domestic,” said Behroozian at the ASWC Senate meeting Sunday night, March 31.

As of next fall, sponsored international travel will be dependent on adhering to specific criteria. The conditions and circumstances of the country a student wishes to travel to will be reviewed using information from the State Department and the Center for Disease Control. A student’s parents must sign an agreement of their knowledge of the travel, as well as agree to refrain from taking legal action against the college if trouble abroad occurs. Funded internships must be with well-established organizations abroad.

This restriction has inhibited both student research and internship grant opportunities, as well as limiting options for campus organizations to travel in the past.  Groups like Whitman Direct Action and GlobeMed that had relied on Whitman funding to organize trips were forced to resort to other methods of fundraising to continue their travel.

The ban was initially proposed due to a variety of safety concerns. In a Pioneer article written at the time of the ban, Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland voiced that the college was less hesitant to grant permission for students to travel under supervision of established organizations or for the purpose of conferences. The committee responsible for granting funding was surprised by the number of applicants for funds and concerned with safety, resulting in the ban.

Student research possibilities could also benefit from the lift of the ban. Though the option has not yet been confirmed, Behroozian stated at the ASWC Senate meeting that talks among the administration have begun to discuss the issue.

Editors’s note, April 1, 2013, 10:49 a.m.: This article has been corrected to state that ASWC President Kayvon Behroozian attributes the policy change primarily to the advocacy efforts of ASWC.