BEN GAMBUZZA ’20
Trinity in Paris, one of the College’s most distinctive study abroad program since 2006, is cancelled for spring 2019. Students will not be able to study at Trinity’s Paris campus this spring.
In an email to The Tripod yesterday morning, Tim Cresswell, Dean of the Faculty and VP for Academic Affairs, said that “after much thought we decided that the current model for the Paris program was financially unsustainable due to the high fixed costs associated with renting property and hiring staff in Paris…The costs per students to Trinity have been too high. There will not be a Paris program in spring of 2019.”
Last week, one of the program’s founding directors, Francie Plough Sader, “left Trinity’s employ,” according to Lucy Ferriss, who is the interim director in Paris right now. Jennifer Summerhays, Director of the Office of study away, also confirmed this. Summerhays said, “the onsite director for the Paris program left Trinity’s employ last week. The Paris program has not been cancelled; rather, it will take a hiatus in spring 2019 and relaunch in fall 2019 with a new format.” The Trinity in Paris website, under “Dates + Fees,” also confirms the hiatus.
Seder wrote a goodbye message on the “Trinity College in Paris” Facebook page last Monday, September 24. “It’s just a goodbye…Thank you to all former students, current students and all teachers and collaborators who made these years of Trinity in Paris unforgettable.” Seder studied French at Trinity and spent her own junior year in Paris. Since moving to Paris in 1988, after receiving her M.A. from Middlebury, she has lived and worked there ever since.
The College has accommodated and given program options for students who have applied to study away in Paris in the spring, according to Summerhays. Lindsay Oliver, the study abroad advisor for Paris, “has done a great job meeting with each student individually,” says Summerhays.
The hiatus in spring 2019, says Cresswell, will give the program’s faculty advisors “breathing room to create a sustainable and exciting new program in partnership with world class universities in Paris and, potentially, with other colleges in the US.” He added, “if all goes well, we expect there to be a Paris program available from fall 2019 onwards.”
Emily Clifford ’19, who studied in Paris last spring, as well as Maddie Nelson ’19 and Louisa Mahoney ’19 have characterized the French college-student mentality as, “college is a joke” in France. They are worried that partnerships with Parisian universities could result in Trinity students sitting in on large classes in which they are treated as “numbers” and won’t be called on if they raise their hands.
The decision from the College comes as numerous students, who studied in Paris last semester and are currently there, have expressed dissatisfaction with their experience. Art History major Clifford ’19, who also spent this summer conducting research in Paris, described the experience of students there now as “unnerving.”
Clifford enjoyed her experience in Paris. And there was originally no indication that the program was suffering, she says. Everything was “brushed under the rug.” But at the final dinner at the end of the spring semester, Seder “indicated that the program would be no longer be [sic] in the coming years.” And during the summer, she would see tours led by French real estate agents bringing in people, showing them the space.
Nelson ’19 had “no idea that the program was in jeopardy.” She worries that the students there now are being “abandoned” and are receiving less opportunities than her. The program did not offer “much beyond daily classes” even when she was there. She looks forward to an official statement by Trinity and says that “if I were studying abroad in Paris this semester, I would be seeking financial compensation.”
Louisa Mahoney ’19 also studied in Paris in the spring and lamented the lack of tours and events planned by the program. She, along with Nelson, had to mostly figure out things to do themselves, while their friends at other programs constantly had “hands on” experience.
The College has not released information about the changes they will make to the restructured program in fall 2019.