Immigration ban affects GALA trip

Photo of Segovia, Spain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 


Twenty students traveling abroad on the Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts trip cannot visit Morocco due to safety concerns surrounding President Donald Trump’s immigration order. This regulation prevents people, predominantly from Muslim countries, from entering the United States. Despite the change in schedule, the GALA trip, where students travel and study in multiple countries, will continue to Greece and Italy.

Students in the GALA trip will earn 15 credit hours, an Indianapolis Community Requirement and one Global and Historical Studies course waived. The trip provides students with the opportunity to visit and study in many countries within the semester.

The students were originally scheduled to visit Morocco after their first destination Spain, but their trip is now relocating to avoid the country altogether. The students and two faculty members will stay in Spain for an extra week before they depart for Greece.

On campus, director of study abroad Jill McKinney kept in contact with the GALA group.

“The GALA group was not going to be in Morocco long enough to create these on-the-ground safe practices, particularly during a time where the reaction to the executive order is changing and heightening daily,” McKinney said.

The students are currently in Segovia, Spain, and learned about the news through email. Sophomore Murjanatu-Olivia Mutuwa is one of the 20 students on the GALA trip. She wrote about her experiences and reactions to the Morocco cancellation on her WordPress blog on Feb. 4.

“My professor looked at us calmly, she said, ‘We are safe, we are together, and we will be okay,’” Mutuwa wrote. “The sense of melancholy was easily recognized in her words. They told us how the new president of the United States’ travel and immigrant ban has put us into a situation in which we must be extremely careful.”

Students were upset after hearing the news, Mutuwa wrote.

“They said at a time such as this, our group will not travel to a country where the majority of the state practices Islam,” Mutuwa wrote. “With these words, many students turned to tears. Some students rattled off questions, and a student or two encouraged us to push the negativity aside.”

Seven countries are listed within the executive order: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. There are no international students studying at Butler from the seven countries, but International Student Services is working with students from abroad that are worried about their immigration status, McKinney said.

“One of the positives of the GALA program is that the group is able to travel to several countries in one semester, exploring academic content from several lenses,” McKinney said.

Students will not be charged additional fees for the trip’s cancellation and changes. They plan to return at the end of the semester on schedule.