BYU cancels Jerusalem semester

PROVO, Utah — BYU officials have canceled the next semester of the university's winter study abroad program at the BYU Jerusalem Center — amid political unrest that would prevent the 174 students registered for the program from taking field trips in the Holy Land.

James R. Kearl, assistant to the president for the Jerusalem Center, said although the students would not be in any danger, their activities would have been limited mostly to the center because of the conflict.

"Given the level of violence right now, it is difficult to travel," he said.

He was, however, optimistic about the future of the program, located in the area of the world plagued with violence. "We don't have to be violence free," he said. "We just have to successfully move [students] around the country."

BYU students studying at the Jerusalem Center this fall returned home early. A semester was also canceled in the fall of 1991, during the Gulf War.

Brother Kearl said students registered for the program will have the opportunity to go again next winter. Spring, summer and fall sessions are already full, he said. If conditions in the country change, he added, the university still may be able to sponsor a program this winter; students who feel they can change plans for the semester at the last minute have been invited to sign a list expressing their interest in still participating in the program.

He knows, however, that many students will need to sign housing leases and commit to employment. Others, he said, may be graduating or getting married and have lost their opportunity to study in the Holy Land.

"We are turning away lots of [students] already," he said. "This just means we are going to turn away more."