The above picture, which I find laughably unflattering, features (left) Drew’ Chief Communications Officer, Dave Muha, and (right) College of Liberal Arts Dean Paolo Cucchi. This picture accompanied the New Jersey Jewish News story about Drew’s ongoing problem with study abroad in Israel, about which I have reported here extensively already.
New information: Muha told me recently that the rule, which I had been previously led to believe was a long-standing rule, came into effect some time after 2001. Muha tells me that the last time a Drew student studied in Israel was 2001 and the rule is “only a couple of years old.”
Lara Portnoy, the student who has been appointed to the committee that is going to review the rule told me the following in an email:
“I think everyone is really willing to get this done.
We are going to get copies of the waivers that several different universities use and we’ll look at them to see ways that we can make our own. I think that’s pretty much the route everyone wants to go.[Religious Studies Department Chair] Prof. [Chris] Taylor had Rutgers’ policy which said that they review the state department, independent warning places, expert faculty, the consulate, etc. when they have students traveling abroad. That also seems like a good idea. I think the issue is that Drew wants some neutral thing to look at in order to be un-biased, which is why they chose the state department. Now I think the SD will be the first place to look, but then after that other factors will be considered…
“In terms of summer study: Now, when a student studies abroad over the summer, the form will have a required place for the overseas director’s signature. This way the loophole is closed and Drew can review the location before the student goes…
“On a slightly different topic:… In 1997 there was NO policy at all about study abroad safety. Then in ’97 something happened (which I don’t remember) and Drew started thinking about developing an official policy. Then when the issue with Eritrea [where Drew previously sponsored a program] came up two years ago… Drew needed something un-biased to base their decision on. Everyone was really personally involved with the [Eritrea program], so the faculty all wanted to let the trip go anyway. This is why they implemented the SD policy. Therefore, this is a pretty new policy that Drew has been trying to be consistent with. Obviously with the issue of Israel, problems with this policy have now been brought to light. In their words, this is an “evolving process” that is still “undergoing change.” So we’re trying to “fine tune” it or whatever.
“I hope that clarifies things.”