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.)


One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    A press release issued from the College of Engineering recently touted a $45k "gift" from Bechtel. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Bechtel introduced, promoted and will benefit from this Cal Poly- Saudi relationship…
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    Islamsofascists tolerate nothing but islam, and Islam tells them to kill ALL unbelievers, encourages their own children to die in this pursuit, and makes them comfortable with treating women worse than their dogs.

    This is the "partner" you we want?
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    I am deeply concerned that the actions of these new Poly employees, Durgin and Noori, are going to have a negative effect on the reputation of the University and the value of my degree. I do not wish to be in any way associated with what could be deemed support of the Saudi regime. What can alumni or concerned community members do to prevent this contract from being signed? What does Chancellor Reed think of this "partnership?" And were Blakeslee's questions satisfactorily addresses by the University?
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    Thank you Dan & Karen for all the excellent investigative reporting on a broad range of issues of serious concern that are affecting all our SLO citizens. . Good job and keep it up :-)

    Closely related to your article is the Provost's op-ed piece in the Tribune today that may on first reading "seem to be credible", unless one is able to dissect his narratives (see Roger's blog which points out quite a few flaws in the Provost's assumptions and aspirations.
    http://www.rogerfreberg.com/blog/
    Comparison to Berkeley-Stanford's similar deal for research partnership with KAUST in Saudi is also VERY misleading; because their partner KAUST has a dispensation from the King making that campus exempt from most of the restrictive or discriminatory shariya rules.
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    I agree with Roger and, speaking of women at Cal Poly, I wish you would sniff around and do some kind of story about the most power woman on campus — Mrs. Baker! It is a story that needs to be told.
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    The Saudi's stone women to death, mutilate their daughter's genitals, subjugate women in every way, execute gays, ban all religions but their own which teaches its children that killing jews and infidels is the pinnacle of achievments, and support religious leaders who openly declare war against the west.

    What exactly is it that we hope to learn from those people?
    By: Anonymous on 4/3/08
    You guys are doing a wonderful job. It is amazing how many things need to be 'uncovered.'

    It seems to me that Cal Poly needs to have an independent review board to oversee, modify or prevent programs like this 'gender apartheid' deal like this from ever going forward.

    Yesterday, Cal Poly Warren Baker had a large blurb in the student paper about how he and Cal Poly were soooo committed to women and such. If that is true… why does he wind up in court?

    And how many women does he have in his inner management circle?

    Some thnigs just continue to smell

    Roger Freberg

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