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OIP Cancels All Summer 2021 Abroad Programs

The Office of International Programs (OIP) has canceled all of its Summer 2021 faculty-led and internship programs abroad, according to an email sent to students enrolled in the programs.

“We know that you might be disappointed with the news and wish that there was a different outcome,” Larry Pickener, interim director of OIP, wrote in the email. “Like you, we were hoping to be able to run summer programs. However, this is the best decision based on all available evidence.”

The cancellation comes after a careful review of OIP’s summer program sites abroad and all available health information regarding the impact of COVID-19, the email said. OIP will not be charging deposits on student accounts, even if a student has already submitted a final confirmation form.

Rising COVID-19 numbers abroad, uncertainty over when students and faculty will receive vaccinations, travel restrictions, and quarantine protocols all contributed to the decision to cancel the programs, Pickener said in an email to The Heights.

“It was not until recently that it became clear that summer would be unlikely,” Pickener wrote. “… We have been monitoring conditions abroad for quite some time via our contacts overseas, the CDC, the State Department, and multiple other agencies as well as other peer universities. The more information we gathered, the clearer it became that running our summer programs would be unwise.”  

Leann Gardner, MCAS ’23, who was supposed to study in an economics program in London and Paris, said that the late cancellation poses an inconvenience for her summer opportunities.

“I think [OIP] waited as long as they could before calling it,” Gardner said. “But overall it still sucks because now … for summer plans, like a lot of internships have closed.”

Pickener said in the email to the enrolled students that OIP hopes to be able to work with affected students in the future, and that it will give these students priority for next year’s abroad programs.

This is the second time Gardner’s abroad plans have been canceled—she was also supposed to study abroad last summer. She said she most likely won’t apply again next summer, because she’ll want to have an internship before her senior year. 

OIP is still planning to run its Fall 2021 abroad programs, Pickener told The Heights, and will continue to monitor the situation throughout the spring and summer.

Luigi Franzese, MCAS ’23, who was enrolled in an abroad program in Parma, Italy, said that at this point in the year, the logistical challenges of sending students abroad were far too great.

“We’re not getting vaccinated for a while,” Franzese said. “It doesn’t look like BC’s offering vaccines. It logistically would not make sense to internationally travel, especially when Europe’s in the middle of a third wave.”

Gardner said that though she knew the cancellation of the programs was always a possibility, she was still holding out hope that she would be able to go.

“I like to think of myself as an optimistic person … I can’t say [study abroad] what I was counting on, but I knew it was a possibility,” she said. “I think they did what was hopefully best for us.”

Overall, Franzese said he is not surprised by OIP’s decision.

“The writing was very much on the wall,” Franzese said. “I had kind of had hope that maybe it would work, but yeah, I’m not surprised.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

March 24, 2021