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Sunday, October 01, 2023

UF announced in a memo last week that it will no longer sponsor or sanction student trips to Haiti.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the new policy is based on health and safety warnings from the federal and state governments and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She said riots and disease will make the country unsafe.

“It’s going to be progressively more dangerous in Haiti,” Sikes said.

Students and faculty can still travel to Haiti, but they must take time off from classes and research and pay their own way, Sikes said.

Under the new policy, organizations such as Project Haiti, a group that has been going to Haiti and the Dominican Republic during spring break since 1996 to provide free medical care, would not be allowed to travel.

Daniel Lombardo, a second-year UF medical student and one of the group’s trip leaders, said the organization could lose about $6,000 in Student Government funding should it choose to go to Haiti because SG funding would constitute university sponsorship.

“At this point, we really can’t interpret anything yet,” Lombardo said.

The group still plans to go to the Dominican Republic during spring break and is trying to find a way to travel to Haiti.

The announcement also affects the plans of Jon Bougher and Roman Safiullin, two UF graduate students who were filming a documentary in Haiti when the earthquake struck.

Bougher said he is unsure if they will be permitted to return to Haiti because the film is part of their master’s thesis work at UF.

In order to make the return trip, they would need a travel authorization from the university, Bougher said.

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But Bougher said the film is between 50 percent to 60 percent complete, and he wants to go to Haiti.

“I understand the liability issues with students going [to Haiti], but we need to go down and get the rest of the story,” Bougher said.

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