Pitzer students celebrate closed Israel study abroad program

April 4, 2024

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Pitzer College has suspended its study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel. Officials at the California college say the program was one of almost a dozen study abroad programs shuttered and the move had nothing to do with boycotting Israel, as student activists had called for. Pro-Palestinian students are touting the program’s demise as a win; many of them had pressed college officials to close the program.

The college’s Student Senate voted in February for the university to cut ties with Israeli universities, according to a press release from student activists. Faculty members voted to suspend the program in 2018, and the College Council, made up of professors, staff and students, followed suit in 2019. The student activists’ press release touted the suspended program as a win for groups such as Students for Justice for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Pitzer Alums for Social Justice, which have advocated for the college to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS.

“Pitzer College has removed study abroad programs in 11 countries, including one at the University of Haifa in Israel, from its pre-approved list because they did not meet certain of the criteria outlined in the college’s guiding principles for Study Abroad and International programs, specifically, lack of enrollments for at least five years, exchange imbalance, or curricular overlap,” a statement from the college read.

“These programs are not closed to Pitzer students, nor do any of these actions reflect an academic boycott of any country or educational institution,” the statement continued, noting students can still participate in the program through a petition process.

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