Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Binghamton University has decided to cancel study abroad programs for both the winter session and spring semester.
All BU-sponsored study abroad programs were canceled Oct. 1. A similar decision was made on Oct. 16 SUNY-wide, canceling all SUNY-sponsored international student travel for the winter session and spring semester.
Patricia Bello, assistant provost for international education and global affairs (IEGI) and director of international student support services (ISSS), said government warnings helped form the decision for the University.
“The decision was not made lightly, but, rather, after careful consideration of the many uncertainties that continue to exist surrounding health and safety, including the elevated travel advisories and warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Bello wrote in an email. “Our decision was communicated to every student who had applied to go abroad on a [BU]-administered program this winter and/or spring, in an effort to provide as much time as possible to mindfully plan for their next semester and to prevent them from incurring any financial losses.”
Students can still study abroad through non-SUNY programs. It will be up to the student to assess the potential risk and contact the administering university on whether the program is still running. The University has developed a risk webinar as well as a risk assessment self survey to help students determine the risk of traveling abroad, especially due to COVID-19.
Adam Silhavy, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry, was disappointed but understood the University’s choice to halt travel due to COVID-19.
“If I’m being honest I’m disappointed about the lack of ability to go abroad though I agree with the University’s position entirely,” Silhavy said. “These are stressful times all around and being responsible and respectful of what has happened this year is only right. It was my intent to participate in at least one of [BU’s] study abroad opportunities before I graduate, but only time will tell if that’s possible. Overall, it really comes down to what is safest and best for the student body.”
The University hopes to reopen its study abroad programs for summer 2021. Students can apply for summer and fall 2021 study abroad programs beginning in December but should have a contingency plan in case of cancellations. Currently, the Office of IEGI still has opportunities available for students. Multiple information sessions and programs can be found on B-Engaged in celebration of International Education Week, taking place Nov. 16 through Nov. 20.
Alexxa Bisnar, a sophomore majoring in business administration, expressed concerns for her own safety when it came to possibly traveling abroad.
“I think that it’s a fair decision to cancel study abroad [programs],” Bisnar said. “It sucks for students who are waiting for it, and of course I feel bad but at the same time we don’t want to infect more people or infect countries in general, and, until a vaccine is distributed, it’s a proper decision. I don’t think I would feel safe studying abroad with [COVID-19], I don’t want to be the reason people get it, and I don’t want it getting to me from other people that I may not be able to [contact trace].”