This is one of the stupidest things I’ve read in a long time:
As would be the arrangement at home, about 60 faculty members from a Saudi Arabian university are taking courses on Virginia Tech in classrooms separated by gender.
Tech officials said administrators from King Abdulaziz University
separated the sexes to reflect classroom settings at their home
institution, which operates separate campuses for men and women.
"This is the way they teach their courses over there, and this is the
way they wish their courses to be taught over here," Tech spokesman
Larry Hincker said. The university, he said, chose to respect the Saudi
culture "rather than impress our culture on them."
Um. no. If an American professor were to go over there and force them to have co-ed classes then that might, perhaps, be an example of "impressing culture on them". Though, frankly, women’s rights are one of many areas where their culture is just plain backwards and wrongheaded. And I doubt they’d be nearly so accomodating.
But Virginia isn’t in Saudi Arabia, and VA Tech is a publically funded state university which has absolutely no business arbitrarily segregating classes by gender. Here’s their boilerplate Equal Opportunity Statement, which apparently doesn’t mean very much:
Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or
applicants on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation,
disability, age, veteran status, national origin, religion, or
According to their history pages, the first women were allowed to attend in 1921, whereupon "women are admitted
to all courses of instruction". After more than 80 years the whims of some silly visiting professors hardly seem like a good justification for tossing that history aside.
In fact, this seems like a perfect opportunity for the visiting academics to embrace the spirit of higher education. To broaden their minds and experience new things. After all, if things keep moving along the way they are in the Middle East, the Saudis will have to change their ways or be left behind as Iraq and Afganistan allow women to take their proper place as equals beside the men.
(via Photon Courier)