Students looking at new study away programs at 2016 Study Away Fair PHOTO BY ERICKA BUCHTEL

SHAWN TORREY; Guest Writer; torreyso@plu.edu

Studying away is the opportunity of a lifetime for college students. Pacific Lutheran University prides itself on its study away opportunities. So what happens if the chance of a lifetime is cancelled? These tough decision have greatly affected students in the past & will continue to do so in the future. It is important to understand how this tough decision is made.

Executive Director of the Wang Center Tamara Williams explained the situation. “On November first of every year we invite the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University to propose courses for study away,” said Williams.

This means that if trips do not have a proposal, they are not eligible for study away. “It really depends on what faculty wants to offer abroad and what units can offer,” added Williams. The proposal is then sent to the Global Education Committee, a faculty committee.

If the committee recommends the proposal, Williams will take it to the Provost for final approval. Once the Provost has approved the study away, students can start applying.

This begs the question of why an already approved study away trip would get cancelled. According to Williams, there are three main causes.

First, a faculty member is unable to teach it. “It could be illness, departure, staffing changes in a way that the faculty member can no longer take the group,” noted Williams. Second, the course does not draw many students.  Third, conditions on site that would deem the location unsafe for students.  Conditions would include natural disasters or political situations.

If a study away program must be cancelled, the Wang Center provides alternatives to students. “We try our best to redeploy the course either with a new instructor or in a new location,”stated Williams.

The Wang Center even provides students with other study away trips that they could apply for. If no alternative fits the students needs or wants,  the student would be in contact with the Registrar  to get the student registered for courses at PLU.

Marisa Cella, a senior majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Biology, was hit with this reality when her anticipated J-Term study away to Italy was cancelled. “I was so devastated that the J-Term was canceled because it was my only chance to study away at PLU,” said Cella. “The chance to study away was one of the main deciding factors in attending this university.”

The Wang Center provided alternatives and  “offered to transfer my application to a second choice,” noted Cella. “They however did not offer any specific program. There were no other programs that interested me or aligned with my requirements or degree, so I chose the refund.”

A cancelled study abroad trip is an unfortunate event. It might be the only opportunity that a student has in exploring the world. The Wang Center, however, will use every resource that they have to make sure that the student receives the opportunity of a lifetime. ◼︎

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