University of Florida Bars Haiti Footage
A strange one from Inside Higher Ed:
The University of Florida has told two master’s students at the Documentary Institute that they cannot use footage they shot in Haiti for their thesis project because the university barred student travel to Haiti, The Gainesville Sun reported. The students say they needed the footage for their film, and used private funds to pay for the travel, but the university says that permitting the footage would undercut the travel ban.
On what planet does a university get to impose a travel ban? And why would they preclude film students from doing what countless camera crews from around the world were doing? I followed the link and it in turn referred me to a posting from the same blog dated February 5, “UF will no longer sanction student trips to Haiti.”
In a memo sent out this afternoon, UF said that based “on an assessment of risk and on advice from the federal and state governments” that there “are to be no UF-sanctioned, -sponsored, or -approved trips for students to Haiti.”
Faculty and staff who wish to travel to Haiti to provide assistance or act in their professional capacities as employees of UF must receive prior approval for the trip from university officials, according to the memo.
“Faculty and staff who do not receive such approval but who nevertheless choose to travel to Haiti on unpaid or annual leave should make clear that they are acting without the approval or sanction of the university and do not represent the university,” the memo said.
So, basically, UF was covering their backsides so that, if anyone got hurt in Haiti, they couldn’t sue the university. Fair enough.
But, having severed themselves from responsibility, why punish students who took the risk on their own accord and did so on someone else’s dime? How would it “undercut” a “travel ban” the university has no authority to issue?
Further, in this particular case, students Jon Bougher and Roman Safiullin were already working on the film and happened to be in Haiti when the quake hit in January. They were there well before the dubious ban was issued. So, in essence, the university is stealing from these students the time that they spent on this project in a raw demonstration of power. I hope they’re sued and lose big.