About Us: The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University
Catalonia Independence Referendum Statement

October 6, 2017

IFSA-Butler has been closely monitoring Catalonia’s referendum for independence from Spain and the central government’s related actions. Despite heightened political tensions and violence in polling areas on Sunday, October 3, no violence, threats, or tensions have been aimed at U.S. citizens or foreigners, including U.S. university students. All of the violence was localized at the polls where citizens were voting. This places our students at low risk for safety or security concerns. U.S. students and foreigners in general are not part of the current political process and would not be targeted during these events.

 IFSA-Butler students have been advised to avoid protests, political rallies, and polling locations; additionally, we have suggested that they avoid political arguments. Students are aware that while the majority of demonstrations, rallies, and protests in other countries may begin peacefully, they may quickly turn violent. As per the IFSA-Butler Student Acceptance Agreement students signed before arriving in Barcelona, they may not participate or actively observe such gatherings.

 IFSA-Butler staff and students report that their life in Barcelona is business as usual. In their daily lives, our students do not feel the tension that is occurring at the political level, and their courses, internships, and co-curricular activities are proceeding normally. At this point in time, IFSA-Butler feels that other than an up-close look at Spanish politics and cultural identities, the only direct impact our students may face would be the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) closing for short periods of time due to Catalan government, university administrations, faculty, and/or students deciding this should form part of their protest against recent events. Although temporary closures may occur, we do not expect this to affect the overall academic success of our students this fall semester. Should this change, our resident staff and Academic Affairs team will work with students to coordinate academic options. Please note that at this moment, no strikes have been scheduled or announced. For more information about academic strikes, please visit our information page about university strikes abroad.

Our Resident Director, Ryan Lorenz, has been frequently touching base with students to check for any concern and to discuss the current political situation. Should students not feel comfortable with the safety or security of their program location, they are encouraged to reach out to our resident staff to discuss their concerns.

At this time, IFSA-Butler will not be making any changes to Engage Barcelona programming. We anticipate the program running as normal through the end of the semester. We hope that students will take advantage of this time to learn about the political processes in Catalonia and Spain while enjoying their time in Barcelona.

For additional information on Catalonia’s referendum for independence from Spain, we recommend the following resources:

Catalonia Separatism Revives Spanish Nationalism – NY Times

The Invention of Spain – BBC

Spain apologies, tone softens in Catalonia independence crisis – Reuters

Catalonia independence declaration looms as leaders defy Spanish king – CNN

Why does Catalonia want independence from Spain? – The Telegraph


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