For 21 years, UC Berkeley undergrads have gone to northern Israel each summer to participate in archaeological digs for school credit. No longer. As UC Berkeley Provost George Breslauer told MediaNews, the heightened risk of violence in northern Israel, punctuated by the recent war with Hezbollah, has made university lawyers worry that the trips could leave the school open to lawsuits in the event of students getting in the way of the shit hitting the fan.
The UC prof who has led the trips in the past thinks it’s a wrongheaded policy. So does his counterpart in Israel, archaeologist Ilan Sharon.
“Thus far, the quest for knowledge has survived the poisoning of Socrates, the pyres of the Inquisition, Stalin’s purges, and McCarthyism,” Sharon told MediaNews via e-mail. “It remains to be seen if the spirit of exploration will succumb to the reign of the risk assessor.”
Similar restrictions will also affect Berkeley programs in the Philippines and Indonesia.
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