Harvard rolled out a new travel tool on Monday that will allow the University to better aid students who might be in danger while traveling abroad.
Students whose travel is funded by the University will now be required to submit their travel plans to the Harvard Travel Registry. Students who are travelling without Harvard funding also are welcome to register, but are not required to do so.
“The University has been enhancing its overseas emergency response capabilities, and the Harvard Travel Registry provides a new tool that makes it easier for faculty, students and staff to register their Harvard-related travel abroad,” University spokesperson Kevin Galvin wrote in an email.
Many students said that the new tool is a welcome addition in planning their travels.
“We lose nothing from registering, and could potentially benefit a lot in case something happened,” said Imane Karroumi ’14, who is from Morocco. “Harvard alumni are everywhere and they could be a great resource in case of an emergency.”
Karroumi said she would appreciate Harvard’s help in the case of an emergency while she was at home because she does not have her own contingency plan.
The new requirement raises questions about student privacy and the University’s oversight when students are away from campus. However, students said they felt that the benefits of having Harvard’s support outweigh any potential infringements on their privacy.
Max Y. Lu ’15, who plans to visit China during winter break, said, “it is not an invasion of privacy. You never know when things could go wrong. It’s always good to have a back-up.”
Lu said that he does not have his own emergency plan and would turn to Harvard if trouble arose in China.
“I really just feel as though Harvard has every right as to inquire about what their money is paying for,” said Lisa S. Burricks ’15, who is planning to travel to Korea and Tunisia during the summer. “It is completely justifiable.”
The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs first developed a program to help students in trouble overseas in 2006, according to Galvin.
The Registry is monitored by the recently-created Global Support Services department, which works closely with Vice Provost for International Affairs Jorge I. Dominguez.
The Global Support Services currently monitor events overseas that may impact Harvard affiliates, according to Galvin. “In an emergency situation, Global Support Services will act as the liaison between Harvard Schools and outside emergency and logistical resources,” Galvin said.
Warnings Restrict Harvard Support For Undergraduate TravelIn order to protect its individual travelers and itself as an institution, the College follows State Department advisories to determine whether to support student travel to countries in question.
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