Under the cloak of secrecy, but in broad daylight, Southwestern College cut an education deal with the fascist monarchy of Qatar.
A tiny oil-producing country in the Persian Gulf that wields an economic battle axe on the world stage, Qatar is scheduled to start sending students to SWC as part of a joint venture with EC English La Jolla and the Maritime Institute, two for-profit schools in San Diego.
This groundbreaking deal was so important to SWC it was buried at the end of a list of announcements made by campus president Dr. Melinda Nish last November. It was also included in the president’s report to the governing board in December.
Dr. Nish referred to the Global Peace Index, a think tank report card prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace, that ranked Qatar as the 19th most peaceful country out of the 162 countries surveyed. This would be impressive if not for two factors—the United States is ranked 100 (one position ahead of the People’s Republic of China) and Qatar is a police state.
Civil liberty violations aside, Qatar’s exposure in the world press is a public relations nightmare. Since they were awarded host country status for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has been increasingly criticized for its use of slave labor from neighboring countries to build soccer stadiums. Workers are not permitted to possess their passports and visas while working in Qatar. Their bosses keep them until the work is done.
Another embarrassing foreign policy decision by Qatar was to sponsor the Syrian rebels for the past three years in their attempt to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels have now joined with cells of al-Qaeda in the bloody civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.
But the final straw is that this program has excluded Qatari women from participating. In a day and age of promoting equality, this campus has condoned doing business with a country that persecutes females.
Dr. Nish lauded this partnership as a major accomplishment when showcasing the SWC campus to Mahmoud Sabri, the director of academic affairs for the Qatari Embassy’s Security Attaché office. Sabri is not an academic, he’s a security official for a totalitarian government.
Dollar signs from potential revenue are blinding the ethical stance of the campus. Perhaps an informed campus would have elected to take a different path and rejected the offer from Sabri and the royal family of Qatar. We have enough problems here already. We should not get into bed with a totalitarian, misogynistic police state.