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Indiana Alumni Director's Response

Thank you for your note of concern.  Twenty-five alumni have signed up for
our 18-day tour to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, and Hong Kong.
We believe we have a commitment to honor our contract with them.  I'd like
to share with you a few points that haven't emerged in published reports.

No university has canceled its trip.  Fifteen schools are operating tours
that include a stop in Burma.  MIT, Bucknell, Emory, Syracuse, and
Saskatchewan recently returned from trips to the area. Yale, Northwestern,
Illinois, Penn State, Washington (St. Louis), Brown, and the University of
Southern California all have trips scheduled.  UCLA's Alumni Association
did withdraw its sponsorship while allowing the tour to go forward; it is
the only school to have done so.  UCLA's 18 passengers completed the tour,
but the Alumni Association was unable to provide the sort of educational
support that we are providing.

In visiting Burma, we are in no way siding with the repressive,
authoritarian military government.  We are very sympathetic to the
concerns that have been voiced by the students.  Visiting a country does
not mean endorsing the policies of its government.  When it became
possible for Americans to travel to the People's Republic of China in the
late 1970s, we were the first university in the country to sponsor an
alumni tour there.  That tour was no more an endorsement of the Chinese
government than this stop on our itinerary is an endorsement of Burma's

We have mailed to the participants information from The New York Times and
the Christian Science Monitor about the political situation in Burma.
These participants are aware of what's going on in Burma. They have chosen
to go on this trip.  We do not believe that we have the right to overrule
their choice, to make their decision for them.

A lecturer on board ship will inform travelers of the situation in the
various ports of call, which also include Malaysia and Thailand.  Tom
Bartlett is well versed and well informed, having undertaken assignments
in Southeast Asia for the State Department and the United Nations.

We have offered to share with our travelers a position statement from the
Burmese Student Association, and we are trying to arrange a meeting of
students with our travelers upon their return. This conversation,
reflecting different points of view, is part of the free exchange of ideas
that education and democracy are all about.  We believe that it would make
an interesting, informational article in the alumni magazine.  In this way
our 60,000 members can learn some of the issues, weigh the information,
and form their own opinions.

An editorial in the Indiana Daily Student stated, "With each tourist that
crosses the border into Burma, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
receives $300 for its military coffers."  A representative of Intrav, the
St. Louis-based company that planned this tour, informs us that the $300
is waived for its group travelers, who will be staying aboard a Norwegian
ship docked in the harbor.

>From the founding of the republic, Americans have agreed to disagree; that
is part of what it means to be a democracy.  I respect your point of view
and appreciate your concern.

Jerry Tardy
Executive Director
Indiana University Alumni Association