The plot thickens

For the back-story on this, go to Categories, which is located on the main page’s sidebar and click on Israel. Articles there should catch you up on this.

After I sent an email to President Weisbuch and Dean Cucchi about this ongoing issue that other day, from whom I got no responses, I received today an email from Drew University Chief Communications Office, Dave Muha. Muha thanked me for my continued interest in this issue. He also gave me a Q&A to distribute, which follows:

DREW STUDY ABROAD Q&A

The following questions and answers are meant to provide factual information about Drew’s study abroad policy. The university appreciates the comments and suggestions it has received from the community about this important matter.

Q. Why won’t you allow students to study in Israel at this time?
Drew’s current study abroad policy is tied to the U.S. State Department’s travel warning list and does not allow students to study in countries for which there is a travel warning. Since the university is not in a position to assess the safety of foreign destinations for students, it has historically relied on and is currently relying on this source.

Q. But there are other sources that offer a different assessment.
Why don’t you use them? Drew is actively reviewing these sources, as well as the study abroad policies of those universities that allow their students to study in countries with State Department travel warnings, to see if there is a way to revise its policy to allow for greater flexibility while giving proper consideration for students’ safety.

Q. Doesn’t the State Department warning apply only to Gaza and the West Bank?
Unfortunately, no. Drew checked with State’s consular affairs office and this is not the case. Although there are some strongly worded sections of the warning pertaining to Gaza and the West Bank, the warning is not limited to those areas.

Q. Is it true that you’re allowing students to study in Lebanon?
No. Study is not permitted in Lebanon and the approximately two dozen other countries for which there are State Department travel warnings.

Q. Is it true that you allowed a student to study in Israel last summer despite a travel warning?
Not exactly. Drew does not monitor student travel during the summer when school is out of session. Students who take summer courses at foreign universities are able to transfer their credits to Drew upon their return. Because the university does not have a formal policy regarding where a student can and can’t study during the summer, it did accept credits from a student who studied in Israel. How the university handles summer study will be reconciled with its fall and spring policy as part of the ongoing review.

Q. So you would otherwise accept credits from Israeli universities?
Yes. The quality of the universities in Israel has never been in question.

Q. And if it weren’t for this travel warning, you would support a student’s desire to study in Israel?
Absolutely. Drew actively encourages students to study abroad. In fact, to facilitate this, it has just revised its study abroad policy to allow students to keep all of their merit- and need-based aid while abroad. There is no intent on the part of the university to discriminate against Israel. It is solely the result of an existing policy that is tied to the State Department’s travel warning list–a policy that Drew is now reexamining.

Q. When will the review process be complete?
The review is underway and should be completed during the Spring 2008 semester. The university is committed to thoroughly reviewing the sources mentioned above and, if a change is recommended, developing a policy that can be evenly applied to all students and travel destinations.

David W. Muha
Chief Communications Officer
Drew University

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