Policy on Student Travel to Countries Under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and Other Countries with Heightened Risk

Lawrence University supports international travel as an essential means of providing invaluable learning opportunities for our students.  We recognize, though, that international travel involves the potential for risks which may or may not be present within the U.S.  Lawrence strongly recommends that all students familiarize themselves with the travel information available from the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites. In particular, students should carefully consider the information included in State Department travel advisories and alerts for the country in which they are pursuing off-campus study and/or for any other country to which they are planning to travel during their time abroad. Please note the difference between State Department Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.

Lawrence will cancel a Lawrence-sponsored program, will withdraw its approval for study on a Lawrence-affiliated program, and will not provide funding or support if a State Department Travel Warning and/or a CDC level 3 travel warning is in place for the host country. Lawrence does not support students participating on off-campus study programs or international travel in countries with these levels of caution.  Lawrence reserves the right to cancel support of travel based on extenuating circumstances.  If cancellation is necessary, the institution will work to provide alternate programming when feasible. Withdrawal of approval for an affiliated program bars a student from receiving Lawrence credit for the program and from applying institutional financial aid or funding to the program costs.

In order to make certain that a student may make an informed decision regarding participation on a program, the issue of potential loss of Lawrence approval for an affiliated program will be brought to the student’s attention as far in advance of the program start date as is feasible. This policy applies to students attending programs where such a warning is in place before the program begins (even if there may not have been such a warning or alert for the host country when the student applied and/or was accepted to the program). 

Students or faculty travel leaders who have a compelling educational reason for student travel to such countries may submit a petition for an individual exemption from this policy through the Off-Campus Programs Office.  Information about this petition process is available below.

In the event that a warning or alert of this level is instituted while a student is in-country, Lawrence will consider the situation to determine if program participation should continue, be adapted, or suspended.  Lawrence will be in contact with impacted students and work with the travel assistance service of the international insurance that is required of all students traveling internationally with Lawrence support.  Security evacuations are highly unusual and the travel assistance company determines whether a political, security, natural disaster, or medical evacuation is necessary.  If emergency evacuation becomes necessary, Lawrence will work with the evacuation service and impacted students to coordinate this.  If a student refuses to comply with an evacuation, the University maintains the right to withdraw financial support and may institute disciplinary action. 

The authority to cancel Lawrence support of international travel to particular countries according to this policy can be exercised by the Provost or delegate, Director of Off-Campus Programs, or Vice President for Student Life or delegate.  When possible, these parties will confer and come to a decision in consultation with each other.  In circumstances necessitating a quick response, this decision may be made by one or two of these parties.

Exemption petition process

Lawrence considers the health and safety of student participants to be the highest priority.  Petitions for exemption to the Policy on Student Travel to Countries Under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and Other Countries with Heightened Risk will be thoroughly considered.  Petitions will be reviewed by a committee that includes the Director of Off-Campus Programs, the Provost or delegate, the Vice President for Student Life or delegate, and University Counsel when necessary.  The committee will (1) review plans to ensure individual safety while traveling in a country with this level of warning and (2) determine whether Lawrence will support travel to this area in light of the risks of the location.

The petition for exemption should be submitted to the Off-Campus Programs office along with all supporting materials as far in advance as possible and no later than six weeks before the proposed travel.  Standard practice is that the committee will make a decision within two weeks of submission.  If an exemption is granted, all paperwork to register international travel and make arrangements for insurance enrollment will follow the regular timelines.  If an exemption is granted, each participant will be required to review, sign, and return an additional ‘Assumption of Risk for Travel to Countries Under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and Other Countries with Heightened Risk’ form. 

If the petition for an exemption is not approved, the student or group will not be allowed to travel to the country with Lawrence advice, support, credit, or funding.  Permission for travel with Lawrence sponsorship or support may be denied at any time and decisions may be reversed if the political climate or security situation changes after a petition for exemption is initially granted.

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