May Term and the presidential term collide: Westminster professor declines international travel during Trump presidency

A copy of an email Karlyn Bond, a music professor at Westminster, sent her colleagues on the morning President Donald Trump was elected, expressing her withdrawal from the Paris May Term Experience. Courtesy Karlyn Bond

A copy of an email Karlyn Bond, a music professor at Westminster, sent her colleagues on the morning President Donald Trump was elected, expressing her withdrawal from the Paris May Term Experience. Courtesy Karlyn Bond

Westminster College’s assistant provost for global learning, Sara Demko, said she hopes President Donald Trump’s administration does not bode badly for this year’s seven May Term Study Experiences.

Demko isn’t the only one who’s troubled. Karlyn Bond, a music professor at Westminster, said she is also concerned about how a Trump presidency will affect May Term. 

Bond was one of the faculty leaders for the trip to France and had been planning the trip with her colleagues since May 2016. However, during a pre-trip meeting with her colleagues, Bond said if Trump “somehow” won the election she would withdraw from the trip.
 
The morning after the election, Bond sent an email to her colleagues keeping her promise not to travel during Trump’s presidency.
 
“I will not go to Paris during a Trump presidency,” she wrote in the email. 

Though Bond said she remains steadfast in her choice, she did express sorrow about it.
 
“I’m really sorry about it all, but I just find the prospect of being an American abroad too embarrassing,” Bond said.
 
Bond said part of the reason she withdrew from the trip was because of negative stories she heard about May Term experiences under different presidential administrations.

 “I had learned from one of my colleagues that on a previous trip to France, they as a group were treated very differently under the George W. Bush administration than under the Obama administration,” Bond said. “There was much more of a spirit of goodwill during the latter.”

I think now more than ever we need to be engaging in the world and encouraging our students to get out and see the world outside of Utah and outside of the U.S. If Trump had studied abroad, maybe he wouldn’t be such a jerk.
— Sara Demko, Westminster College's assistant provost for global learning

Others who have committed to May Term trips said they aren’t as concerned about how Trump’s presidency would affect their experiences.
 
Claudie Jan, a sophomore arts administration major, signed up for the same May Term trip to Paris that Bond withdrew from and said she doesn’t think her experiences in Paris will be affected by the new presidency. 
 
“I think it’s important [to travel abroad] because then you could talk to people you meet to give them your view instead of the view they are just [assuming you have],” Jan said. “Even though it’s embarrassing enough to say the words ‘President Trump,’ it’s more embarrassing to not go. If you are insecure about your country then you shouldn’t travel. Even though it’s a terrible thing to own, it’s the fact, and you can’t change it anymore, so you might as well enjoy life as much as possible.”
 
Even after she learned about Bond’s reasons for withdrawing, Jan said she was still excited about the trip.
 
“I’m half French, so half of my entire family lives there,” Jan said. “It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been to France.”
 
Demko also said a Trump presidency shouldn’t change decisions about study abroad trips.
 
“I think now more than ever we need to be engaging in the world and encouraging our students to get out and see the world outside of Utah and outside of the U.S.,” Demko said. “If Trump had studied abroad, maybe he wouldn’t be such a jerk.”
 
Demko, Jan and Bond agreed on the importance of facing the reality of what’s happening in the U.S.
 
In an article from The New York Times about the impact Trump may have on tourism, Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group said the predictions are bleak for the tourism business.
 
“If the economy isn’t good, travel is always one of the first areas where consumers start to cut back,” Harteveldt told The New York Times.
 
Bond said she hopes to travel again once Trump leaves office.
 
“I can imagine traveling to Canada and pretty much nowhere else during the next four years,” Bond said. “But maybe the worst won’t transpire and conditions will be such that I can imagine going to Paris.”
 
Although Bond said she won’t travel soon, she insisted that citizens must move on now that Trump is president.
 
“We need to live in the present,” Bond said. “We have spent so many months now worrying so intensely about what was going to happen, and we did what we could to keep it from happening. Well, it’s happened. And now, as I see it, we should be appreciating every moment where the earth still exists and we are still here. Enjoy the meal you’re in the midst of, enjoy whatever it is you are reading, enjoy the fact that you can speak your mind to your friends and that the sun still comes up in the morning.”