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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Interim travel rules scale down staff requirement

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Aug. 18 freshman edition. It is being reprinted for students who did not move in early.

University officials introduced this week an interim travel policy to replace regulations proposed last year that had sparked heavy criticism from student groups, according to Jeff Coats, associate dean of students.

Many groups had feared the previous plan would make it difficult, if not impossible, to take trips during the year.

The change was made this week after University administration members heard several complaints from student group leaders at an early August retreat, Coats said.

The rules proposed last year said that when three or more students in an official organization travel, a faculty or staff member must accompany them.

The new rules require a group that receives money from the Student Budget Committee, which distributes University funds to groups, to submit a notification form to the Office of Campus Involvement at least two weeks before their trip.

OCI will then decide if a chaperone is required, Coats said. Guidelines for that decision had not yet been made at press time.

Fraternities, sororities and club sports teams will be exempt from the policy.

Critics had worried the added cost of the chaperone would make trips too expensive or logistically difficult for smaller, less-funded groups.

Coats said OCI had created a fund to help groups pay for a chaperone they require.

Organizations that do not submit a notification form will not receive SBC funds for the trips, Coats said.

But the cost to lodge a chaperone was not students’ only concern.

Many organizations’ advisers are also faculty members and may not be available to travel during the week because of their classes.

Dave Scharfeld, former co-chair of College Republicans, hopes his group will still be able to go on as many trips this year as last.

“It will be almost impossible to get an adviser who is willing to travel every weekend when we campaign across [the] state,” Scharfeld said.

One option for students who need help finding an available advisor is OCI, said Bernard Little, Undergraduate Student Government president.

“They’re a great asset, and I’m sure something can be accommodated for the organization,” he said.

That graduate students are allowed to replace advisors on trips is also the cause of some unrest.

“I don’t understand the difference between having a 23-year-old grad student and a 21-year-old undergrad,” Maria Khoury, former College Democrats president told The BG News last March.

Ed Whipple, vice president of student affairs, said graduate students with assistantships are paid by the University and are therefore its employees.

“Such status holds them to a very high standard of conduct,” he said.

The travel policy is not set in stone.

A committee made of students, faculty and administrators will develop and recommend a final policy. That should be ready by early 2007.

“[Students] would come to our [USG] meetings in the spring semester and voice their concerns ” and that’s why they decided to put together this committee,” Little said.

According to Whipple, a travel policy never existed prior to this one, which left the University and students susceptible to legal action if anyone violated laws while on a trip.

“Many institutions have similar travel policies,” Whipple said.

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