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Monday, March 03, 2008

Nothing quite like the sweet, sweet taste of petrodollars to euthanize the conscience.

Cal-Berkeley and Cal Poly are racing to set up schools in enlightened Saudi Arabia.

Cal Poly's is men-only and Berkeley's being...circumspect about the nature of its school, assuring that there will be no discrimination.

But refusing to cough up any documentary proof.

Faculty concerns have slowed similar proposals between other U.S. and Saudi schools. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, engineering professors are opposing an agreement to develop a men-only engineering school at Saudi Arabia's Jubail University College.

Berkeley administrators are making sure the King Abdullah proposal would not lead to discrimination, said Al Pisano, chairman of the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering department.

"We're in the middle of vetting all of this," said Pisano, who declined to say how much money the Saudi school would pay UC Berkeley. "If this agreement goes forward as planned, I think you're going to find that there will be no discrimination on any basis."

Unlike other Saudi universities, the new school -- known as KAUST -- will not be subject to gender or religious restrictions, said John Burgess, a former U.S. diplomat who runs the Crossroads Arabia blog. King Abdullah intends to allow KAUST complete freedom so it can become one of the world's top graduate schools, Burgess said.

"KAUST is unique," he said. "There will be no government pressure on curriculum or the way anything runs. This is being carved out of Saudi Arabia."

But it remains to be seen whether women and others will indeed be allowed to be equal partners in the new venture. The New York Times reported in October that Israelis would not be allowed to collaborate with KAUST.

Sounds like a stunning engineering achievement, floating above Saudi Arabia like that. After all, that would be the only way the institution would escape the eyes and truncheons of the hairy double-y chromosome types who call themselves the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

And it looks to be 100% Jew-free, too. Understandable--those clever Zionists might sneak a few more nut-shrinkers into the land of purity.

Very well-played, Cal-Poly and Cal Berkeley.

Remember when American universities used to have their thongs in a wad about companies that did business in apartheid-era South Africa?

My mistake was to think it was an admirable stand for the principle of the equality of all men before the law. More the fool me.

Looks like the Boers' real crime was failing to sling some serious piles of Krugerrands down University way.

Nah--too cynical...

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