North Texas Daily

UNT has no right to promote study abroad while canceling spring break

UNT has no right to promote study abroad while canceling spring break

UNT has no right to promote study abroad while canceling spring break
February 25
10:00 2021

As a university student, it is not unusual to receive dozens of emails about events, special offers and university announcements throughout the semester. For the most part, it is white noise between pertinent emails about classes. However, emails promoting study abroad have struck a chord with me this semester – the same semester UNT has elected to cancel spring break to safeguard campus against COVID-19.

I could not help but think, why is it okay to travel abroad with the university when they canceled spring break over the concern of students traveling?

The university stated it was socially irresponsible to allow the possibility of students traveling through crowded airports, using public transportation and going to popular vacation sites to then return to campus after spring break.

Do these faculty-led excursions not go through the same crowded airports, use the same public transportation or visit popular vacation destinations like regular travelers? What is the difference between a college student traveling across the state and another flying to Europe?

Is the risk not the same?

If it is irresponsible for UNT students to travel independently during their spring break, it is also irresponsible for UNT to promote studying abroad. There cannot be one without the other. Students paying to travel with the university while being denied the opportunity to travel independently during spring break is hypocritical at best and incompetent at worst.

Studying abroad is an experience that college students should have while pursuing higher education because it broadens their horizons and gives insight into cultures outside the U.S. However, it is not socially responsible to do so during an ongoing pandemic, nor is it feasible to safely and fully experience studying abroad.

As a journalism major, I am targeted with promotions for Mayborn in London and Mayborn in Japan. Countries that are currently dealing with spikes in new cases of COVID-19, with the U.K. peaking at 68,053 new cases on Jan 8 and Japan peaking at 4,928 new cases on Jan 11.

In addition to spikes in new cases, a new variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the U.K. This variant spreads quicker and is more likely to cause death. This new variant has also been found in Japan, further demonstrating the associated danger with international travel at this time.

Looking past the risks, traveling abroad while the pandemic is ongoing will also hamper the experience of studying abroad due to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions. Using the Mayborn in Japan as an example, Japan has closed most of its attractions and is limiting the operating hours of hospitality businesses.

Traveling is traveling, whether it is abroad to Europe, Asia or just across the state to visit family. The risks should be considered by the same measure when determining policy that affects the student body. The risk is the same and will continue to be present until the COVID-19 vaccine is universally available and the pandemic has ended. Until that time, UNT should not be promoting study abroad because it would be just as socially irresponsible as allowing students to have spring break.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Steven Nickols

Steven Nickols

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