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University-affiliated group travel prohibited, personal travel ‘emphatically discouraged’ in the fall, says U.

Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian
Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Students living on campus in the fall are “emphatically discouraged” from traveling for “any reason and to any location outside the immediate Princeton area,” read an email to students on Thursday from Associate Provost for International Affairs and Operations Aly Kassam-Remtulla. 

Any University-affiliated group travel, including travel organized by student groups, is prohibited, the email explained. 

Forbidden group travel will include travel for “student activities, research, conferences, faculty-led group, and any other University-related purpose.”

The travel guidelines will be in place for the entirety of the fall semester, and will be reassessed and updated at the beginning of “each academic semester,” according to the email. 

Although University-affiliated “group travel” is “prohibited,” further guidelines enumerate the procedure for gaining permission for “University-sponsored travel.” Specifically, all University affiliates must register University-sponsored trips “to any destination” with the Global Safety & Security (GS&G) unit prior to departure. 

“Any destination” was qualified in the guidelines as “outside of Mercer County, New Jersey.” The guideline marks a shift from a past requirement for undergraduate students to register their travel “outside the New York-to-Philadelphia corridor.”

The requirement for registering with GS&G will apply to all faculty members, staff, undergraduate students, and graduate students. 

Additionally, when conducting University-sponsored travel, affiliates must comply with University and local, state, and federal public health guidelines, including mask wearing and physical distancing. 

With regard to personal travel, undergraduate students who were invited back to live on campus are required to “enroll the details of their personal travel outside Mercer County.” 

The requirement to register personal travel with the University will apply to students invited back who “choose to live off campus and visit campus regularly.”

Graduate students studying on campus, regardless of whether they live on University property, will also be required to register personal travel. 

Faculty and staff members who live and work on campus will not be required, but are “encouraged” to register any “non-routine, overnight personal travel outside of New Jersey.” 

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Those graduate students, faculty members, and staff who commute to campus outside the county do not need to enroll their commutes as travel — including in cases when the University subsidizes their commuting costs. 

Kassam-Remtulla explained in the email that these determinations on travel policy were made due to the “imperative of balancing our community’s need to remain connected to the broader world of research and learning opportunities, with the great risks and uncertainties of any journey during a pandemic.” 

The risk of “bringing infections back to our campus or into the communities we visit” took greater priority, and “weighed heavily” in the University’s deliberations. 

Varying governments’ responses to the pandemic also created “sometimes insurmountable obstacles” to the University’s ability to support travelers in an emergency, read the email. 

Kassam-Remtulla also noted that the guidelines were created in collaboration with “the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of the Dean of the College, Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Human Resources, the Office of International Programs, the Davis International Center, University Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety, and Finance & Treasury.”

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