Two UB school of management faculty, two UB staff and a UB alum were detained in Ryazan, Russia on Dec. 9 during a mission trip facilitated by the UB School of Management.
Ryazan officials cited that the UB officials’ Dec. 6 trip to Moscow Polytechnic University “didn’t correspond to the group’s declared purpose for entering the Russian Federation” but did not provide specifics on exactly what they did wrong according to a UB press release.
The UB faculty and staff paid a small fine on Dec. 10 and were removed from the country on Dec. 11. After working with the U.S. embassy in Russia, the UB community members arrived back in the U.S. on Dec. 13.
The group traveled to Russia as a part of its regular trips abroad to “explore the Russian economy on a regional and national level,” according to Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management. The group participated in cultural tours as well as meetings with industry representatives and college groups.
“This was an exploratory visit with the purpose of identifying potential opportunities for the School of Management in the areas of student global study trips, collaborative programs and future exchanges,” Tesluk wrote in a statement.
UB believes a miscommunication between UB faculty and staff and Russian officials led to conflicting understandings of the trip’s purpose. An unnamed person reported to Russian officials that an informal roundtable discussion involving UB faculty and staff was a “lecture,” which could have violated the terms of the UB faculty’s tourist visas. This led to their removal from the country.
The UB academics were formally charged with “teaching activities that don’t correspond to their status in the country,” but under the advisement of the U.S. embassy in Russia, did not fight the charges.
“I am very proud of and stand by the work that our team from the School of Management was trying to accomplish with this trip. And it will not deter us from continuing to build and expand our global programs and engagement opportunities,” Tesluk wrote. “We will be completing a thorough review of all that has happened to ensure we learn from this experience and take all possible precautions going forward.”
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Reilly Mullen is the editor-in-chief for The Spectrum. She double majors in English and political science. She enjoys Dunkin' iced lattes, arguing with frat boys and buying cool shoes. A former web, features and news editor, she write columns about her chronic illnesses and taking down the patriarchy.