Students at the 10 University of California campuses are ratcheting up efforts to overturn restrictions on study abroad in Israel.
Jewish students and Hillels will appeal to the state legislature to overturn the 2002 decision of the University of California Education Abroad Program, which withholds university funding from programs in countries on the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory list on the grounds of student safety.
According to Senate Resolution 18, introduced Jan. 17 by Sen. Carol Migden (D-San Francisco), UC students who choose to study in Israel must formally withdraw from the university, risk losing their financial aid and, if they are readmitted, have no guarantee that their credits will transfer.
The resolution notes that the State Department travel advisory was never intended to apply to study abroad programs, which form an increasingly important part of a university education. It further notes that several other state university systems have reinstated their study programs in countries with less severe travel advisories,such as Kenya and Nepal. The resolution suggests that the University of California do the same.
Yonatan Barkan, the Jewish Agency for Israel emissary to UC Davis Hillel, is chair of a 10-campus coalition task force created last fall to overturn the funding ban. The task force is working with BlueStar PR, a pro-Israel advocacy firm, and persuaded Migden to take their cause to Sacramento.
The student-run campaign has also appealed directly to the UC Regents and Office of the President, demanding the reinstatement of funding for Israel programs because the entire Education Abroad Program is funded by student fees. Restricting the use of those fees could be a violation of the principles of Student Freedom of Scholarly Inquiry in effect in the UC system, activists claim.