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Florida Travel Ban Update

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10 Responses

  1. I still don’t know what the big deal about this is – if this were twenty years ago and instead the bill prohibited academic travel to South Africa using state-related funds, I’m guessing the outrage against this wouldn’t be the same.

  2. eduardo penalver says:

    Just a point of information — this law prohibits travel from any funding source, state or private. As the memo says, “No official business-related travel to the above countries FROM ANY FUNDING SOURCE will now be allowed by the University.” Based on your earlier comments, I don’t think that makes a difference for your evaluation of the law (I guess, Conservatarian stands for a philosophy that is more conservative than libertarian), but I just thought your arguments should at least correspond to the facts. Interestingly, the law was justified in the press repeatedly as preventing the state from spending money to send academics to terrorist states, even though Florida law already prohibited that (as the memo indicates). In fact, what the law accomplishes is to prevent professors in the state university from traveling to terrorist states (read: Cuba) using money from private foundations.

  3. John Armstrong says:

    The only sense I can find in this is if the state is considering the general administrative costs incurred in routing the private funding through the state university and wants to stamp those out as well.

  4. I understand about state or private funding – that’s why I referred to it as “state-related”. But based on your comments earlier, private money that never enters the accounting records of a state university can be used to finance the trips. I would be bothered from a libertarian sense if the state forbade you from visting on your own dime but have no philosophical problems with them deciding how you’re going to spend their money…and if it’s made available to the university (and not directly to the poor academic), it’s their money. If this so offends the foundations making such funds available then they can make their discontent known by cutting off the funds or redirecting them to other non-handcuffed schools. If this then puts a serious crimp in the budgets of the state schools then maybe the legislature reconsiders – we’ll just have to see how the market reacts.

    Of course, if the private foundations really, really want you to experience Cuba, I’m sure someone will be sharp enough to figure out a way to buy a ticket for the travel-deprived academic that doesn’t involve using a state agency. So if it’s so all-fired important to go see Cuba & visit with Fidel, finance it privately & keep the state taint away.

  5. Law Monkey says:

    I don’t think the effects of this law are limited solely to academics (assuming that “academics” = “professors”). As a student, I’d be curious to see how this law will play out in terms of professors being able to accompany students on study abroad programs, and in students themselves being able to study abroad in the relevant countries.

    Example: Some college summer study abroad programs allow students to obtain study visas to learn about, e.g., Cuban government/politics or history, and professors almost always accompany students in these programs. At least where my undergrad was concerned, some of the funding for students came from grants awarded by an honor society. The grant money came from a private endowment. The grants were disbursed from the school to the student.

    Given that education is (supposed to be) such a high priority for “America’s future,” it’s a shame that Floridian students might be hindered in learning about certain cultures through firsthand experience. So much for encouraging cultural awareness and understanding.

    If the law has the effect that I’m imagining, it seems a bit over-the-top.

  6. again I ask – would you all be so opposed had this been directed against South Africa during its apartheid regimes?

  7. eduardo penalver says:

    Absolutely. Of course, this is not a great hypothetical for you to keep pressing, since your peeps in the Reagan White House were too busy trying to block any sanctions at all against apartheid South Africa to ever consider banning academic travel.

  8. LM says:

    MC, I’ll respond solely from the perspective of a student.

    1. I don’t have a problem with a law that prohibits the state from spending its money on excursions to “terrorist states.”

    2. I do take issue with laws that limit what can be done with private grants.

    a. If the FL law was intended to limit the expenditure of general administrative costs (i.e. those costs associated with doling out private monies), as Mr. Armstrong suggests, that’s fine – I have no problem with it.

    b. BUT, it doesn’t seem like that was the intended purpose of the law. Rather, it seems like the law was meant to curtail travel to terrorist states, period. The text of section 1011.90 (1-5) appears to be concerned only with the allocation of state funds to state universities, and with the budget reporting requirements for these universities. No other part of this section places a limitation on what state unis can do with private funding. (But even if FL is concerned about the admin costs associated with private grants, I can’t imagine that the admin costs would amount to very much, nor can I imagine that it would be easy to determine exactly how much the state spends in admin costs in sending professors/students to terrorist states.)

    3. Because I can’t see how FL is being harmed by the expenditure of private funds for travel to certain countries, I still maintain that the law goes a bit too far.

    4. All of that being said, and in response to your question, I’m not sure I would be opposed to this bill even if it was directed against S.A.’s apartheid regime. Of course, I certainly don’t support apartheid, or any repression of human rights, for that matter. However, a lot can be gained from cultural immersion and exposure. (You may disagree that there are any real benefits to be gained from traveling to terrorist states, but I would probably want to take you up on that issue.) No matter how reprehensible the government of terrorist states may be, people should not be prevented from traveling to those states simply because of their employment with, or enrollment in, a state university.

    Tying it together (I hope), the primary reasons that I would still be opposed to the bill, even under the circumstances you’ve described, are because: 1) FL would not be giving money to the terrorist state itself; 2) FL would incur very few (if any) costs in sending professors/students abroad; 3) If FL isn’t losing money by sending its professors or students abroad, the only real purpose of the statute seems to be to prevent travel; 4) Preventing travel to the designated countries could result in the loss of valuable learning opportunities; 5) The loss of such opportunity may be far greater than any (financial) harm suffered by FL in permitting its professors and students to travel.

  9. Humble Law Student says:

    Um, what’s the big deal? This bill doesn’t purport to ban private travel, only travel under the auspices of a Florida university. Maybe the great state of Florida would prefer its professors didn’t respresent its institutions of higher learning in terrorist states? That said, the bill doesn’t prevent a private organization from paying for your travel as a private citizen.

  10. LM says:

    HLS: I’ll just say again, in response, that the effects of the bill don’t appear to be limited only to professors. For some students, funds provided through university auspices (e.g. private grants disbursed by the university) may be a student’s only means of financing opportunities for study abroad. (And of course, the student does not represent the university as an agent or employee, so your argument in defense of the statute, as it would apply to professors, would not be applicable to a situation in which students are recipients of private funding.)

    Please see my previous post for further elaboration.