Rutgers Center for Global Education gives away free passports
Editor's Note: The first paragraph of this article has been edited to reflect a more appropriate word choice when discussing countries outside of the United States.
Less than 50 percent of U.S. citizens have passports, limiting their ability to travel outside the country to other nations around the world. Two groups at Rutgers aim to change this.
This month The Center for Global Education and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) will be hosting a two-day passport give-away event at the College Avenue Student Center.
The event will be held on Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The Center for Global Education is honoring Rutgers' 250th anniversary by giving 250 passports away to those who have registered for the event.
To be able to attend the event, students need to sign up for it online. To be eligible for the giveaway, students must be U.S. citizens enrolled at Rutgers.
The giveaway is only for students without a passport — it does not include passport renewal.
"(The goal of this program) is to help remove a hurdle to international travel by providing students with the opportunity to receive a free U.S. passport (a $135 value), we are opening up possibilities for them to study, work, and travel abroad," said Christina LoBrutto, marketing coordinator for The Center for Global Education.
Some students on campus are praising the program for giving students the opportunities that come with traveling.
"Passports give access to different facets of life as they are heavily weighted documentation, so those who couldn't necessarily be able to pay the fees or spare the time to get a passport are now able to have one," said Chris DiStasio, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“In my opinion, this passport program is allowing students without means or opportunities to obtain passports, and opens a door to many dreams. Traveling outside of the country not only allows these students an adventure, but educational opportunities like study abroad," said Suraiea Hussain, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
More students should be included in the giveaway, said Grace Li, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore who is critical of the program’s 250-person policy.
"It would be so much easier if someone can get or renew a passport on campus without going far, but only letting 250 do so is too little," she said. "With so many students, there will definitely be people who will be disappointed because they couldn't get or renew their passports."
Isabel Leccese, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said giving away only 250 passports is fair.
“Two-hundred fifty is a lot of passports," she said. "They don’t have to give out any at all so I don’t think anyone should be complaining that they aren’t giving enough passports out."
Kristen Charlery is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.