Penn State has put a moratorium on recreational class trips to New York City and Washington D.C., since both cities are, in the eyes of the university, highly volatile targets of inevitable terrorism.
In a memo sent to staff from the university's Office of Risk Management, any planned recreational trips to either city "must be cancelled due to safety concerns" through the end of the semester, presumably at which point terrorism will have been defeated.
Trips classified as academic or service-oriented may continue as planned, provided that a university employee is present at all times and that any free time is abolished in favor of structured "alternative activities." If there's one thing we know about terrorists, it's that they specifically and relentlessly target students who appear to be unchaperoned by...what? College students are adults. Older adults?
"If there is more than one employee attending the trip then it is okay to have multiple simultaneous planned activities in place of unstructured free time as long as an employee is with each separate group activity," the email reads.
Class trips that fall into neither category must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in order to determine if the trip should be cancelled.
“Given the perceived increase in security risks, the University is acting out of an abundance of caution to take a closer look at travel to New York and Washington, D.C.," Gary Langsdale, Penn State's "risk officer," said in a statement. "These are extraordinary times and we want to ensure the safety of our students.” He added that the safety of students, faculty and staff is the school's "top priority."
As Jake wrote in his Ask A Native New Yorker column today: "Doing anything else—relocating, avoiding crowds, never leaving your apartment, voting for some fascist promising you security—that's exactly the reaction the terrorists want, and giving it to them dishonors the memories of their victims. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life feeling like a coward in Peoria? Some fates are worse than death."
In the interest of fairness, NYU and Columbia students are putting a hold on their trips to central Pennsylvania*, impacting the travel plans of exactly no one.
**But seriously, get a grip.