CAL POLY/SAUDI UPDATE: No-go plan pending
April 3, 2008
BY KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN
A controversial proposal to partner Cal Poly’s College of Engineering with a Saudi Arabian university is hurtling toward resolution next week… maybe.
Current plans, which have drawn nationwide attention and generated widespread campus debate, would establish a cooperative effort to create an engineering facility at the Jubail University College (JUC) with a $6 million contract to cover expenses.
A brief, to-the-point, formal “resolution on faculty objections” will be presented April 8 for consideration by Cal Poly’s full Academic Senate.
Sponsors hope to win agreement on the resolution’s objective that “the Academic Senate of Cal Poly recommends to [President Warren Baker] and [Provost William Durgin] that Cal Poly not proceed with this project.”
The resolution states, “Cal Poly participation in this project is at odds with the Cal Poly mission statement: ‘Cal Poly values free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.’”
A contingent of professors contend that Saudi Arabian laws, customs, and practices prohibit women from teaching classes containing men, and generally exclude and even persecute Jews and other minorities, specifically gays. Such bias would bar a substantial number of Cal Poly professors from participating, according to a group of seven sponsoring professors who attached their names to the compact resolution. Five are past chairs of the Academic Senate.
Objecting professors include Laura Freberg, Reg Gooden, Harvey Greenwald, Myron Hood, George Lewis, Jim Locascio, and Unny Menon. In an earlier e-mail to colleagues, Menon said he worried about “the continuing rapid progress toward consummation… of the Cal Poly/Saudi contract.”
(Read UncoveredSLO.com’s Valentine’s Day article that started it all.)