Kasteel Well staff advises students against travel to Spain

by Shafaq Patel / Beacon Correspondent • October 12, 2017

WELL, the Netherlands—The Office of Student Affairs is strongly advising students at the Kasteel Well Program to not go to Spain because of the political challenges and violence in the country.

Last Monday, Tikesha Morgan, senior advisor for student affairs at Kasteel Well, sent out an email to all the students strongly requesting them to not go to Spain until further notice. The decision was made by the executive director, Dulcia Meijers, and the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement in Boston.  

“It is really a request and a restriction at this time because there is political unrest happening in Spain, specifically Barcelona and Madrid,” she said in an interview. “So we want to keep our students safe."

The advisory impacted the travel plans of students who had already booked their tickets. Fiona Luddy, sophomore writing, literature and publishing major, had planned to go to Barcelona the weekend of Oct. 13  for her birthday. She and four other students had been planning the trip for a while, they had already booked their airfare and Airbnb when they received the email. 

“I always wanted to go to Barcelona,” Luddy said. “It would have been really cool to take a trip with the squad on my birthday weekend. I was just mad. I feel like I’m an adult and can go.”

She said that after discussing it with her friends, they decided to not go to Barcelona that weekend. They changed the flight, which cost them extra money.

Matthew Mogavero, junior political communication major at the castle, has mixed feelings about the email sent out to the castle students. 

“I get how it is a totally unfortunate situation and people are nervous, but I don’t know, you could put a travel advisory for every major city in Europe right now,” he said. “But I understand that it is their job, and I know it is their foremost duty to keep us safe while we are here, so I totally get why they have to send stuff out like that. I would send something out like that also.”

Morgan emphasized that this is for the students’ safety. 

“There are a lot of things from the shooting in Vegas to this happening in Barcelona, Spain, so we have to be responsible,” Morgan said. “Yes, it is sad. We don’t like taking away travel opportunities from students, but safety is first here.”

The eight  Emerson students who are studying at Berkelee’s Valencia  program also received an email from Berkelee’s student affairs team. James Sussman, junior visual and media arts major, said the email sent on Friday, Sept. 29  strongly recommended students to not go to Barcelona that particular weekend. The email warned them about the risk, due to Catalonia’s political situation.

Sussman, however, still decided to go to Barcelona that weekend, despite the email warning him about the risk and Catalonia’s political situation. He said Barcelona was rather peaceful where he went.

“They can’t restrict students to go,” he said. “Students are going to do whatever they want. Generally, I think that you should go there and live and experience different things other than the bubble in which we live in.”

This isn't the first time OSA has recommended students not travel to a particular country. During orientation, OSA advised students not to go to Morocco and Turkey. Robbert Van Helsdingen, manager of OSA and resident life at Kasteel Well, said it is harder for OSA to help students in different continents because of the larger language barriers and cultural barriers.  Kasteel Well also recommended students not to go to Paris after the terrorist attacks in 2015 .

“At the end, it is up to the students to be responsible for their own travels,” Van Helsdingen said. “And well of course we feel responsibility, so we feel that we can play an advisory role based on our experience and also watching the news.”