Monday, February 9, 2009

AASCU Statement on Restrictions of Academic Travel

Constantine W. Curris, President
American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Human, commercial and political embargoes on Cuba were born in the Cold War when Cuba was seen as the western hemisphere extension of our enemy, the Soviet Union.

That enemy has collapsed and widespread, governmentally encouraged engagement with Russia and her neighbors are in place. Yet, the severe limitations on Cuba remain, denying academic opportunities for scholarly interactions and students in both countries meaningful opportunities for engagement.

It should be noted that in the dark days of the Cold War conflict there were more exchanges of faculty and students between the United States and the Soviet Union than exist today between the United States and Cuba.

Last November the American public voted for change and there is no change better justified then reversing administrative policies which have restricted American faculty and students from visiting and studying in Cuba, and that have severely restricted Cuban scholars from participating in scholarly meetings in this country, and engaging with their disciplinary colleagues.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the association I lead, consists of 430 public colleges and universities throughout the Nation, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Prior to 2004, 39 of these institutions had active partnerships and programs with Cuban universities. Today that number is but 5.

We have been moving in the wrong direction. We join the call to lift the 2004 and other restrictions reflective of wrong-headed policies that impede student and faculty exchanges and educational cooperation.

We are not making a political statement, but rather an educational one. Education transcends political borders, and we encourage President Obama and his administration to restore unfettered education exchanges and scholarly engagement.

Constantine W. Curris

Text from AASCU 2009 Public Policy Agenda

Expand student exchange programs with foreign countries
for colleges and universities, and lift current travel restrictions
imposed by the Department of Treasury that serve as barriers to
student/faculty exchanges with Cuba.

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