Middle East studies in the News
Title VI and the Academy: Academic Bias and Federal Funding for Area Studies
Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago
Dr. Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President, American Council on Education.
1) Introductory Remarks
1) Introductory Remarks
Daniel Barnard: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for attending tonight. On behalf of the Middle East studies student's association and co-sponsors: the College Democrats, the College Republicans, the Student Committee on the Middle East, and Action for Peace, we would like to welcome you to our panel. I would also like to thank our distinguished panelists for helping us explore an important issue this evening.
I would first like to introduce Dr. Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. Dr. Hartle has studied the operations of the Title VI funded studies, across the nation, and spoke before Congress this fall in expert testimony regarding House resolution 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act, reauthorizing Title VI funding of the 1965 Higher Education Act.
Next I would like to introduce, Dr. Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow with the Hoover Institute and a contributing editor of the National Review Online. A prominent commentator on a wide range of public policy issues, Dr. Kurtz also testified before Congress on House Resolution 3077. His comments have helped shape the form of legislation that eventually was passed in the House.
Finally, I would like to introduce Professor John Woods, esteemed scholar and educator at the University of Chicago, and current director of the Center for Middle Eastern studies. His has a lifetime of experience with Title VI programs as a student, an educator and an administrator.
This topic has spurred debate on several important themes of Higher Education. We hope that this panel will represent informed exploration of the issues at hand. We also hope that this will serve an educational purpose for the campus at-large, expanding our understanding of the discipline of various studies, the legislative process and the role of the Academy in civil society.
Finally, I would like to introduce tonight's moderator Janel Mueller.
Moderator: Ummm yes, the Humanities division of which I've been proud to serve for five years as Dean is home to 15 departments, among them Near Eastern languages and civilization, South Asian languages and civilization, East Asian languages and civilization, our area studies units, and to six degree-granting committees, among them Jewish Studies. The Center for Middle Eastern studies of which John Woods is director is administered through the Humanities division as is the Center for South Asian Studies, and the quite new South Asian language center. I myself am a scholar in early modern English literature, politics and religion, and my most germane preparation for moderating this panel, besides just being somebody who has been at this university forever, is my teaching and scholarship on John Milton who published the first tract on freedom of the press, and toleration of beliefs and opinion to appear in the English language in 1644. I am referring to the celebrated Areopagitica. I invoke his spirit this evening to begin presiding over this important panel, this important gathering, and I remind you too of the recently circulated statement by Provost Seller affirming the values of civility and respect for one another in public discourse at the University of Chicago. The format of the panel tonight is as follows: each speaker will present a statement of 15 minutes at the end of which I will provide 5 minutes for each speaker for response or rebuttal. I will then pose, certainly not in my own persona but as the moderator, a series of questions submitted by the sponsoring organizations and addressed to all panelists. Finally the door will be open to questions from the audience. I now welcome Dr. Terry Hartle, our first speaker.
2) Opening Statement by Dr. Hartle
Dr. Hartle: Thank you very much. Stanley and I agreed, we would address you seated, if that is okay with everybody. We're not sure whether John is going to sit or stand but he can make that decision when his turn comes. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. I tell people that early March is really the best time to be in Chicago, and really you ought to be commended for doing this at such nice time of the year. I do want to thank Daniel and the student groups for putting this together. I think this is obviously an issue that has gotten a great deal of attention in Washington and around the country, and I think they did a very nice job in putting this together. Ultimately, universities are communities that sponsor debates, and in essence, that is what you are doing here, uhh tonight, and I'm very grateful that you've done that, that you included me here. I also commend you for holding an academic event on Friday night. This wouldn't happen in a very many places. In fact, when folks ask me what I was doing this weekend I told them I was coming to Chicago to have a debate with Stanley Kurtz on Friday night. I don't know if they were more horrified or amazed. Mostly the view was that this was terrific that the students were willing to participate in an event on a Friday night but not at my alma mater seems to be the common theme.
Let me start by talking a little bit about the current context of Title VI, the Higher Education Act. Title VI is one part of the Higher Education Act. The Higher Education Act is a 600-page law that authorizes Federal student aid programs, Pell grants, student loans, so on… Title VI was created in 1958, originally is part of the National Defense Education Act. Title VI does a lot of different things. The Title has three different parts and it supports 10 separate programs. In 2003 the federal government made $95 million available for the programs sponsored under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. The funding declined a little bit to $90 million last year. As such, it is important to keep in mind that Title VI is a very small part of the Higher Education Act. Title VI makes $90, $95 million available. Last year the federal Higher Education Act made some $90 billion available. So we are dealing with roughly 1/10 of 1% of the total Higher Education Act.
The controversy in last year over Title VI, I think, has been focused on the national resource centers; most specifically it is focused on the Middle East studies centers. There are 120 national resource centers in the Title VI. They get $30 million a year in federal funding. Of the 120, 17 are Middle East studies centers. They get $4.5 million a year in federal funding. So that is the total amount of funding that we are dealing with.
In the last two years a small number of conservatives have leveled five basic charges against Title VI.
First, Title VI centers and especially Middle East studies centers are hotbeds of an ideological bias that is deeply cynical of the West, Israel, and the United States. And that this bias is reflected in the unwavering support for the views of Edward Said, and disdain for the views of scholars like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington.
Second charge, that faculty members are "anti-American," they are "determined to undermine American foreign-policy," and that they "harshly assail any student or Professor who actually dares to go work for the American government."
Third point, that America's Leftist professorate is doing everything in its power to kill the National Security Education Program and that several organizations are sponsoring a boycott against it.
Point number 4, there's not enough oversight of the Title VI programs in general, and the national resource councils in particular.
And five, Title VI is not meeting the national needs for highly trained scholars and experts.
My general response is as follows:
One, I do not believe there is a problem of bias in international education programs in general, Middle East studies centers in particular. I do not believe that Edward Said or his work exerts excessive or deleterious influence on Title VI in general; Middle East Studies centers in particular. Is he important? Yes. Is he still taught and read? Of course and he should be. But the critics of Title VI ask us to accept their assertion with very little evidence to back it up and assertions that when examined don't stand up that Edward Said has too much influence on Title VI and the Title VI centers are biased. Sorry, this is an academic environment and unproven assertions and assumptions are basically unproven assertions and assumptions.
Second, I do not believe that the people who teach at Middle Eastern studies centers are anti-American and I strongly disagree to the charge that they are attempting to undermine American foreign policy. It is not the role of individual faculty members to support it or undermine it. But the idea that a single scholar could do such a thing is probably quite flattering to the scholars but it's probably something of a stretch. The evidence that they harshly assail any student to go to work for the government is one of those unproven assumptions but the evidence here goes the wrong way. According to Department of Education, some 1400 Title VI area studies graduates from the class of 2001 now work for the federal government. That is one thousand four hundred. So if the faculty is harshly assailing anyone who goes to work for the federal government it doesn't seem to making very much difference.
Third point, I do not believe the people that work in international programs in general, Middle East studies centers in particular are hostile to the federal government. Indeed, I believe if anything the opposite is true and that the people that work in international education and the national resource centers would like more influence on governmental policy and greater interaction with governmental agencies.
Fourth point, there is no effort to kill the National Security Education Program, period. The NSEP remains a popular and successful program that has far more applicants for fellowships than it has money available. At present the NSEP gets about 1200 applications per year. They make roughly 400 awards. Put another way you have a better shot at being admitted as undergraduates at the University of Chicago or Northwestern than at receiving an NSEP fellowship. At a minimum the alleged boycott would have to be regarded as a spectacular failure. Some in international education believe that this program should be based in the Department of Education as a way of enhancing the attractiveness of the program. President Bush called for taking that step last year. I happen to believe that this would be a particularly desirable idea. Some like Dr. Kurtz oppose of this step.
Finally, fifth point, I think the Title VI centers are highly accountable. Grants are only awarded after a peer review competition, second, they submit annual reports describing exactly what they do to the federal government, reports that are public and that are readily available, so every year the centers submit performance data using an outcome system called the evaluation of exchange, language, international and area studies programs or ELIAS. It was something put in place in response to the Government Performance Results Act of 1993. Again this is public. Fourth reason I think they are accountable is because the Department of Education can and does take up reviews in cases of complaints.
I want to spend most of my time talking about the evidence of bias and anti-Americanism and boycotts because I think an awful lot has been said about this and frankly I just don't think the evidence supports this. And I emphasize I don't think that there is any issue here that would meet the rudimentary standards in social sciences to support such charges. There are some anecdotes. There is nothing more. And as any first-year graduate student knows: the plural form of anecdote is not data. The evidence cited to justify the charges rarely stands up to scrutiny. In Congressional testimony last summer Dr. Kurtz alleged that there was and remained "a secret boycott" of the Title VI African language resource Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison by the Title VI African Studies Centers. I have a letter from all the heads of the African studies centers and indeed including the director of the language resource Center at Madison saying that there was no boycott. A letter from the Wisconsin Center was introduced into the hearing record that details the collaborative efforts between the Wisconsin Center and the other centers. So Dr. Kurtz claims a secret boycott and the people who allegedly did it and the people who were allegedly its victims say there was no boycott. This a very difficult issue to resolve but I will put my money on the people who allegedly did it and the people who were its victims.
In another example in his testimony, Stanley quotes Jane Geyer, author of Ford Foundation Report on African Studies. Dr. Geyer felt compelled to write a letter to the House committee, claiming she had been quoted out of context to support a point she did not agree with. Her letter and I will share it with people afterward if you like or it's in the hearing record: "My report titled 'African Studies in United States, A Prospective 1996' was quoted and interpreted in a willfully inaccurate way by Stanley Kurtz in his testimony before the subcommittee on select education. Kurtz quotes me as writing that the ‘NSEP boycott serves as a political litmus test within African studies. Not at all.'" So said, it's in public record now, I'll be happy to share it with anybody who wants to see it to make sure I'm not taking her lines out of context.
Another example in his testimony last year, Dr. Kurtz says that essays on the web site at the Kevorkian Center of New York University dealing with September 11 are "take a stand that sharply criticizes American policy." For example, he cites by name an Israeli-born professor at NYU, because she "criticizes America's crimes of oil driven hegemony and America's murderous sanctions on Iraq." OK, so he quotes her as basically offering three words, or three phrases rather: Crimes, oil-driven hegemony, and murderous sanctions on Iraq. Let me read you the passage that he is taking this from: "By the same token the facts of the imperial policy of the U.S., of oil-driven hegemony in the gulf, of murderous sanctions of Iraq, of blind U.S. support for Israeli policy do not turn terrorists into legitimate avengers of the crimes committed against populations of the Third World. Terrorist crimes do not avenge other crimes, they simply add more crimes. A fundamentalist Manichaean discourse projects a righteous east pitted against the corrupt and infidel West. Bin Laden's discourse is the demonizing discourse that turns all Jews, Christians and Muslims who do not share his interpretations into infidels." Are there some words there that might be critical of America? Sure. But is the overall intent there one that sounds unfairly critical or does it sound like there are maybe two sides to this story? And I think that's what happens when you take words out of context. But what we have here is a misrepresentation of this scholar's comments because it didn't include the full statement. I think that the people who heard him at that hearing got a very inaccurate picture of what this scholar really thinks.
Let me offer some free advice to the students, by the way, don't try that in your dissertations because faculty members get a little ruffled when you do that. Indeed I think that the most remarkable part of this discussion, it bears on my last point about this scholar, has been the vitriol and reckless charges that have been leveled against individuals with whom one disagrees. The use of indiscriminate and often unfounded accusations to question someone's patriotism and Americanism is hardly conducive to a frank and open dialog. It is a shocking violation of the norms of academic discussion. It's counterproductive and it's the reason this particular dispute has become so politically charged. I have been doing federal higher education policy for more than two decades. I have never seen anything like this including when Congress and the Federal Government were debating the continuation of Affirmative action. What to do about this alleged problem of bias and anti-Americanism?
In his testimony last year, Dr. Kurtz originally proposed a full-time supervisory committee that would have broad authority to investigate faculty members and campus officials. The House of Representatives passed a bill; this is HR 3077, that approved a part-time seven member advisory committee with members appointed by the speaker of the House, the president pro tem of the Senate, and the President of the United States. I believe that the advisory committee, as passed the House, represented a huge improvement over the original proposal. I want to emphasize I think the proposal is far better than it originally was in large part because it is an advisory committee and because it very clearly has a prohibition on messing with curriculum on individual colleges and university campuses.
But I continue to think there are problems with the advisory committee. First, it is completely autonomous from the Department of Education, and it is accountable to no one. Other federal agencies are required to work with it and give it assistance. While it is prohibited from messing with curriculum, it does have enormous amount of authority to do what it wants without any interference by the federal government. For example, if the advisory committee were to decide to sponsor a web site, rat-on-your-professor.gov, they could do that. Department of Education would have no say in the matter. If the advisory committee decided to hire paid informers and to send them into classrooms; they could do that and the Department of Education could not stop them. They have the authority to ask the FBI to review databases, investigate faculty members or individual students. I think the advisory committee is unfortunately controversial. I think Congress is going to be working on this in the coming months. Obviously the Senate has not yet taken up this particular legislation. There are a lot of discussions going forward in the Senate right now. Some members of the Senate like this and some in the Senate think it is bad idea. The American Council on Education has said publicly that we do not have a problem with a well-structured advisory committee. I don't necessarily think it is worth the money or worthwhile. But we do not have any fear from a properly constituted advisory committee but at present it is not properly structured. Big question now is whether the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act simply gets done. We don't know if Congress will finish it this year or not. If they don't, we do it all over again next Congress from scratch. Stay Tuned….
Moderator: Thank you very much Dr. Hartle.
Moderator: Let's please welcome Dr. Stanley Kurtz.
3) Opening Statement by Dr. Kurtz
Dr. Kurtz: Thanks so much. It's great to be back at the University of Chicago I look back very fondly at my years here, In fact my first night here I spent at I-House. So it's interesting to be back. I only regret I did not have more time today to go to the greatest bookstore in the United States, which was my home away from home when I was here.
All right then. I would like to begin with the problem of the boycott of national security related scholarships by beneficiaries of Title VI subsidies. I believe that the boycott is the single most important reason for the passage of HR 3077. The boycott was at the very center of my testimony before the House and of my writings on the problems of area studies. At a meeting in Houston on November 17, 2001, just two months after 9/11, Title VI African Studies center directors voted unanimously not to apply or accept military or intelligence funding, including funding from the National Security Education Program. This vote was taken in response to great dismay among Title VI center directors at news that an African Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had accepted a grant from the National Security Education Program. I personally interviewed David Wiley about this vote. Wiley at the time was president-elect of the African Studies Association and a national coordinator of Title VI. Wiley is the man to whom Africanists have turned on clarification as the meaning of the vote. And Wiley himself has been a guiding light of the boycott movement. Wiley told me that he took the Houston vote to mean that Title VI center directors should withhold cooperation from the Center at Madison. Wiley cited his own department's principled agreement to withhold cooperation as evidence for his position on the meaning of the vote. After I presented Wiley with evidence of his own early political statements on the boycott, Wiley acknowledged that politics played a significant role in the reasons for the boycott. Now with the congressional hearing on HR 3077, supporters of the Title VI programs deny the Title VI centers boycotted the NSEP at all. Their claim is that it was only several area studies associations and not the actual Title VI centers that participated in a boycott. Though frankly I'm not sure that that is a very good thing either. But the Houston vote shows that this is false. Not only did Middle East, Latin American and African studies associations level a politically motivated boycott against scholarships that recruit into our defense and intelligence agencies, but still have actual Title VI centers.
This story makes several points.
First, beneficiaries of a federal subsidy, a core purpose of which is to create a pool of potential recruits to our defense and intelligence agencies, are taking federal money while doing everything in their power to defeat a core purpose of the subsidy.
Second, the full truth of the boycott has not been made public.
The boycott is usually said to be motivated by concern for student safety. Only under my questioning, and only with evidence to the contrary was I able to procure an admission that the boycott was politically motivated. It is equally clear that the Congress and the public has not been getting the full story about the nature and extent of the boycott. The boycott by the area studies associations is open, but the much more politically embarrassing boycott by actual Title VI centers operates outside of public scrutiny. I only learned of the Houston vote because a courageous whistleblower took the risk of sending me the memo that described that vote. But my source expressed great fear of the retaliation if I were to reveal his identity. That tells you a lot about the prevalence of abuse and secrecy in the operations of Title VI. Were it not for that whistleblower we would never know about the unanimous participation in the boycott by the Title VI African studies centers. And Congress would have simply been told that the boycott was run by area studies associations alone. Again as if that was a particularly good thing either. Nor would we have known that this politically motivated boycott involves not simply a refusal to apply for or accept federal scholarship money but at least from the viewpoint of David Wiley, ostracism and punishment on centers that dared to break the boycott.
Clearly then, there's a strong need for a board to help oversee the operations of Title VI. With this sort of abuse and secrecy already rife, we cannot rely on journalists and whistleblowers alone. There needs an institutional mechanism to shed some light and prevent abuse. The fact that the membership of three area studies associations has voted to support a politically motivated boycott of national security scholarships also indicates that the one-sided bias is rife within these fields. For an entire field not only announces opposition to a given governmental policy but to make any cooperation with our defense or intelligence agencies anathema is a mark in my view of some sort of extremism. Regardless of our views on foreign policy, all of us live under the protective umbrella of United States Armed Forces. We certainly have a right to make policy disagreements known. But to actively attempt to undermine the operation of our defense and intelligence agencies and to do so through a majority vote of an entire area studies association indicates that an extremist political bias is rife within these fields. And again that bias is all the more remarkable given the fact that the same professors who vote to support these boycotts feel perfectly free to accept subsidies and to create a pool of potential recruits to our defense and intelligence agencies. In short, the Title VI program needs a board. Only a board can collect information on abuses like the boycotts and take steps to put these abuses to an end.
Now some have complained about the supposed threat to academic freedom or supposed atmosphere of intimidation that could be created by a board. Those concerns are misplaced but I will speak to them in a moment. But let me ask a question: Where were the defenders of academic freedom when the Title VI center directors took a vote that implied ostracism of a center that dared to cooperate with the National Security Education Program in the aftermath of a massive and deadly attack on our country? Where are the defenders of academic freedom to complain about the intimidation of those that would provide their knowledge to those who would protect our nation from an attack? Of course, now that I have exposed the Madison outrage, the African studies centers are making a show of being very, very nice to the Madison Center. But had all of this remained secret, had there been no whistleblower, the Madison Center would have been ostracized and brought down. While the American Civil Liberties Union has announced opposition to HR 3077, among the most prominent reasons for opposing this bill are their objections to the provisions of this bill that insists that recruiters from federal agencies must not be barred from access to students who benefit from Title VI subsidies. Now Congress voted for a massive increase in Title VI funding at in the wake of 9/11, in great part because we lack an adequate number of Arabic speakers in our defense and intelligence agencies. In fact, we had intercepted the transmissions from the 9/11 highjackers that we were unable to translate in time for wanted personnel. So Congress is supposed to vote a record-breaking subsidy for Title VI out of concern for our unmet national security needs. Congress is supposed to appropriate millions of dollars for universities in hopes of bringing more Arabic translators into our defense and intelligence agencies. But the ACLU wants universities to be able to prevent federal recruiters from talking to students who actually receive those subsidies. It strikes me as absurd. If the university contracts with the federal government to take the subsidies, they're obligated to allow federal recruiters access to the beneficiaries. If something about that bothers you, you can simply refuse to accept the subsidies. We have over 100 programs of Middle East Studies in this country and only 17 of these programs receive subsidies under Title VI. That means 100 programs are getting along just fine without the subsidies. So if you don't want to let recruiters have access to the beneficiaries, don't apply for the money!
Frankly, I think opponents of HR 3077 have lost perspective. Too many people are too used to receiving open-ended subsidies. The whole notion that these subsidies are passed for a reason has been lost. There is no Title of the Higher Education Act to arrange subsidies for art history. No Title to arrange for subsidies for the Department of Philosophy. The whole notion that these subsidies are tied to our national security interest and involves responsibilities as well as rights has been lost. An extremist position like objecting to access to Government recruiters only tends to discredit the Academy in the eyes of the public. Now some have portrayed a Title VI board as a dangerous innovation. That is nonsense. All federal scholarships have boards. Many of them have supervisory boards with real power to govern their programs. The proposed board for Title VI programs is merely an advisory board. It has no real power other than to shed some light and the power to persuade. The real power over the operations of Title VI will remain in the hands of the Department of Education. There is absolutely no guarantee that all or any of the recommendations of this board will be followed by the Department of Education. Moreover, the proposed board for Title VI is unlike other boards in that it has a specific provision to both congressional parties to appoint members. As far as I know no other Higher Education board has such provisions, where the membership is drawn both from majority and minority parties.
But the main reason to believe that the proposed Title VI is not some sort of ominous and dangerous innovation is that there has already been such a board. If you haven't already read it, then you must really look at an article by Kenneth Whitehead called "Learning the Language." Whitehead administered Title VI for the Department of Education from 1982 through 1986 and had overall supervisory responsibility for the program from 1986 through 1989. Whitehead was the ex-official director of the old Title VI board and he strongly endorses HR 3077. According to Whitehead, the old board was a great help to them in keeping the operations of Title VI true to congressional intent. So Title VI has had a board in the past. The remarkable thing was that the board was ever eliminated in the first place. Obviously, given the boycott, in the absence of a board, abuse has proliferated. As I said, Whitehead stressed that the fundamental purpose of the board was to keep the operation of Title VI in tune with congressional intent. Whitehead specifically rejects the idea of say a board made up of academics. In effect, that would be asking the Academy to monitor itself, thus defeating the entire purpose of a board. Peer review already gives the Academy substantial control over the operations of this program. Without a board of predominantly nonacademic members to keep the program true to congressional intent, Congress will have no way of preventing abuses like the boycott. Moreover, as Whitehead notes there is an intrinsic conflict between academic beneficiaries of Title VI and congressional intent.
While promoting a general increase of knowledge of other parts of the world is one legitimate goal, the core purpose of the subsidy is and has traditionally been creating a pool of language competent recruits for government service. Academics, on the other hand, tend to pull the program towards being an open-ended subsidy for purposes of general knowledge. In the existence of peer review, there needs to be some institutional mechanism for ensuring that the government's core interest in producing language competent potential recruits is met. That is what a board has been in the past and that is what it needs to be now.
The critics of this legislature have repeatedly ignored the provision that prevents the board from mandating or controlling the college curriculum. This provision will protect the college curriculum from government interference, and by the way, I've never opposed that provision and I happily support it. The public outreach programs mandated by Title VI however are not part of the college curriculum. My congressional testimony focused on bias in outreach programs is where the call for intellectual diversity in this bill will make a real difference. The college curriculum, on the other hand, is protected. Nonetheless, if the university wants to apply for a grant by positively advertising itself as a place that has professors with many points of view, that will be an advantage. The provision of the bill that bans government control will stop the bill being used to control the curriculum. But the ability of the departments to advertise themselves as well able to promote broad debate and to balance their outreach programs will create a gentle, positive incentive for intellectual diversity. That is really not much but it is the most we can properly do to encourage real debate while also protecting the sanctity of the college classroom.
The truth is academic freedom has already been compromised in this country by our own universities. The very purpose of academic freedom is to encourage a marketplace of ideas. In programs for Middle East studies for example, we have lost an entire generation of successors to the likes of Bernard Lewis. This happened because Lewis and his potential successors were demonized by the epithet "Orientalism," which was turned into a word which essentially meant racist bigots. If you want to see a real-world example of guilt by association, and intimidation stifling academic freedom, then take a look at the rise of postcolonial studies and its effects on intellectual opponents. This bill is not a magic solution to these problems. It is actually quite weak, it doesn't force intellectual diversity, it simply affirms it symbolically in the classroom, directs it in outreach programs, and creates gentle positive incentives promoted over the long run. Of all these measures, I believe that the simple, symbolic affirmation of the value of intellectual diversity is what matters most. What HR 3077 really does is to reaffirm the long-standing liberal belief that true intellectual freedom derives from the clash of competing perspectives. Why should anyone be afraid of that?
Moderator: Thank you very much Dr. Kurtz.
4) Opening Statement by Dr. Woods
Dr. Woods: And now for something completely different… I am going to primarily regal you with autobiographical and anecdotal information because I, at 65, am a poster-child for Title VI. I was a little hesitant to think of myself as a poster child, but Terry reminded me that Donald Rumsfeld is considered a sex symbol, so I thought I would go for it anyway. As I prepared to look into my own involvement in Middle Eastern Studies, it goes back some 49 years. When I first traveled to the region with my family, living in Iraq and Lebanon, later on at University of Texas, Princeton, my graduate education was largely subsidized by Title VI grants. Summer grants, the University of Texas to study Arabic, then three years at Princeton doing what was then called Oriental Studies, and then became Near Eastern Studies. Other government-type monies that I took advantage of were Fulbright funds. I was part of the first student group ever to go to an Arab country. That was to Egypt, 1960, 1961. And in 1979, I held an IREX grant in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I've been a member of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies for 34 years and I've been director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies for 13 of the last 20 years. So that in a sense, the story of Title VI, is in many ways my own story as well, and that's the way I want to try to present it to you.
October 4, 1957 was one of those days that sticks in your memories, as in my case, as Pearl Harbor did or the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John Kennedy or more horrifyingly, more recently on 9/11. Now I remember very clearly what I was doing the very day that I heard that the Soviets had launched Sputnik and was not aware of the other things that followed but I soon became aware of something called the National Defense Education Act passed in 1958 and funds for which became available to people such as myself in 1959. There were a couple provisions of that act that I think Terry and Stanley touched on them. But I've got some of them. A couple of them might just be interesting for you to go over. The act was passed by Congress in response to "educational emergency." The emergency was, of course, that we were falling behind the Soviets in space technologies and other types of disciplines that were considered critical. Critical to what…critical and essential to the national defense. And the purpose was to develop as rapidly as possible skills essential to national defense. This was to be administered under the Office of Education of Health, Education and Welfare until 1979 when it then came under the Department of Education.
I began taking Arabic in 1958 because that is when it was offered at the University of Texas for the first time. Title 1b of the act says also: Nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize any agency or employee of United States to exercise any direction, supervision or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration or personnel of any education institution or school system. Another pertinent part of the legislation was in 11A; this lays provisions. This was the provision for the loyalty oath and affidavit. "No individual shall receive funds from this act unless he first file with the commissioner an affidavit ‘that he does believe in, and he is not a member, he does not support any organization that believes in or teaches the overthrow of the United States government by force or violence or by any illegal or unconstitutional method.'" Also, he must swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. So in other words, in order to receive one of these fellowships as they were originally offered, you had to go through this process of submitting an affidavit and swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States. At the University of Texas where I first received money under Title VI program, at that point, the whole center structure that exists today had not yet developed. And so departments even, I think in Texas, it was the Linguistics Department, though I am not exactly sure. Since then, Texas has acquired its own National Defense NRC. My career then continued at Princeton, in 1961-1964, then again in 1969-1970. Initially in something called the Oriental Studies Department. The Orient, as far as Princeton was concerned at that point, consisted of the Middle East and China. I don't know what happened to the rest of it, but that's the way it was at that time. Subsequently, these programs at this time disaggregated into whatever became East Asian, I don't know at Cornell, you probably know better than I, and Near Eastern Studies which is what I finally end up getting my PhD in. In those days, studying at Princeton, there were some issues that, that came out of the whole issue of what Title VI was, what it was supposed to do and what it wasn't supposed to do. One of them main things was the loyalty oath issue. And as I recall in ‘61, ‘62, which is my first year there one student turned down a Title VI because he refused to swear this loyalty oath, not because I think he was un-American but because he did not understand the pertinence of such a thing. He had said, I suppose, the Pledge of Allegiance I don't know how many times in his classroom when he was growing up in school and he couldn't see the necessity of doing it. At any rate, he didn't do it. He didn't. He didn't swear the oath and he didn't get the money. I think that that provision was dropped after that because I know that when it came time for me to apply for such funds, that oath was no longer being required.
The other kind of study that either had a controversy, I should say, that occurred in those years was the controversy that continues to this day. That is the controversy between areas studies orientation and disciplinary orientation. I noticed it in Dan's opening remarks. He talked about the discipline of area studies. Well, frankly speaking folks, area studies has no discipline. It is a concern over a piece of real estate, and all of its many various aspects but it is not a discipline and so that debate continues to this day. It was a very lively debate at Princeton. And also in the early years of Title VI, it was a rather rigid notion about the way languages were studied. I tried to study Arabic there when I became interested in Persian. I used to put Arabic/Persian on my application and the Title VI advisor just got very upset about it. I was betraying Arabic in order to study Persian. I then left Princeton and I went to Tehran, Iran where I completed the Doctoral program at my own expense in this case, not Title VI money. And came back to Princeton, from which I was hired at this university. The history is quite an interesting one. The assistant director, Rusty Rook found the founding document of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. It makes very interesting reading in 1965. The organization here began as a committee in 1963, 1965. The center was formed. Its mandate has been, is now, is to coordinate, stimulate, and encourage Middle Eastern studies. And I want everyone to be sure that they understand. Centers, Title VI centers do not offer courses. They did not hire faculties. There is no such thing as a Title VI professor as I read in some writings about this whole dispute. There is no such thing. They handle, in many ways, very little power, other than to function as ours always has, as cheerleaders. Cheerleaders for whatever field of endeavor they are involved in on their campuses. In 1973, we established a two-year MA program designed for folks who didn't necessarily want to continue and go on into academics who are more interested in government service, who were interested in business, who were interested in journalism, who were interested in NGO work, a whole variety of things. That program has been extremely successful. We have our largest class enrolled to date this year. More than 20 I think are, maybe 25, 26 in residence right now. And that number has very often included foreign area officers from the military. And, in fact, as we speak today, this on our desk, there is a proposal to develop one calendar year program for FAOs, foreign area officers from the military. 73 also here for our National Resource Center. For those of you year not familiar with all this jargon, there are two acronyms that are very important. One is NRC, National Resource Center, and the other, FLAS, Foreign Language and Area Studies. Chicago is one of those schools, which has both of these. We are both an NSA, and a FLAS graduate institution.
The amount of money that we're talking about that in this case is approximately, this year it was cut back. The total is $503,000. That money is more or less equally split between support for the Center, I will tell you what that means in just a second, and the other half goes for supporting students studying any aspect of Middle Eastern Studies, any department here. The NRC monies, the center support monies, the largest single element of those monies is spent on salaries, say aha here are the Title VI professors. But in this case, the salaries that are supported are language lecturers, language course assistants, and library personnel. No tenured faculty members are supported by Title VI funds and have not been in the years I have worked in this field. We are not allowed, whether this is a hard and fast rule, or is one we just observe all along: We're not allowed to pay more than 50% of any person's salary from Title VI funds. And you're not allowed to pay tenured faculty's salary at all, and we don't. We scrupulously obey that. The practice over the last two grant cycles has also been to show a decrease in drain on Title VI funds and an increasing commitment by the university to those salaries that we do pay. That's the single largest thing. Other activities, such as lectures here, such as outreach activities are paid from those NRC funds, but they do not in any way measure up to the level of salary and library support, and that's what the salaries go for. We do have other funding sources and that has often been a matter of criticism also, in some of the writings of people who are not in favor of what we are doing. In our case, we had a chair that was endowed by a grant from the Turkish Government. We have two endowed lectureships, paid for 1/3 by the Miller Foundation, and half by private donors. In one case a group of Arab-American donors in this area, and in the other case, a Turkish individual. We were unable to raise money to establish a chaired version for the same purpose. We also received money from the Saudi Aramco, which has ranged in time from $3,000-$10,000 for outreach activities mainly.
In terms of oversight, some of that was touched on before. There are many mechanisms internally for seeing how monies are spent. We had a, as far as we could we're concerned, we have the associate deans of the divisions of social sciences and humanities. We have also the university Comptroller, we have the office of sponsored research, who are checking on the way we spend things, the way we do things internally. Externally, as was of course pointed out, we have to make regular reports to the department of education, and we also conduct internal and external regular evaluations of our programs. Over the years here, there have been a number of problematic curricular and ideological issues that have come up. I know in the seventies, when I first arrived, I didn't know about the way things worked, but I remember that Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, a Palestinian activist and professor of political science at Northwestern, wrote an article describing University of Chicago as a hotbed of Zionist activity. And I didn't really see it, but he said it, and so I guess it must have been true. In the 1980s, I became an associate director in 1981, and acting director in ‘84, full director in ‘85, a number of interesting things did occur. Once in 1982, there was a workshop sponsored by the CIA at Langley, Virginia. Many Title VI directors and associate directors were invited to that. I was one of them that went there. We were shown that CIA policy analysts were like young assistant professors. That's certainly the way it looked. And it was all very nice, but there was never any follow-up by the CIA after that. They never came to see us again until three years ago. Although everyone, as I recall that meeting, was quite interested in at least presenting the CIA as a possible career for people being trained in our programs. The ideological thing took a sort of bad turn in 1981, 1984, there were a series of four reports by Jewish organizations on Middle Eastern Studies in general, and in one case there was a booklet produced by AIPAC of individuals and organizations who were biased against Israel. In the other case, the other publication was a college guidebook to programs at various schools. So in other words, many of the things that we're hearing now kind of seem to have a long, long history. There were also for us issues in the conflict between Armenians and Turks. After all, we do have, as I see him sitting in the back of the room, an endowed professor of Turkish studies, half of which was raised by the Turkish Government. There was a lot of conflict. The Middle East is a very contentious area, folks, if you don't know that already.
Other issues we had were, for example, how do we arrange for the teaching of Modern Hebrew? My predecessor director undertook this effort, and we also at the same time established a visiting Israeli scholars-program which brought Israeli academics here to introduce different views and perspective on the Middle East. I'm going to have to finish up really quickly here. I just want to say that until now, my experience has been that the Department of Education, who has overseen us since the late 1970s, has had very little to say about what we do. They occasionally have come up with ideas, and this was a very important thing, that we should all be doing proficiency base language teaching. And that's a whole thing about that, which I don't have time to go into. The other thing that they pushed at one time, and it seemed to me perfectly reasonable was the fact that we should have linkages to professional schools in our programs. We did, and we do have those linkages now. So, up until now, that's the sort of thing that we've dealt with. I'm going to have to stop at this point. So, thank you very much.
5) Brief Responses to Previous Comments
Moderator: ...course promised, I now want to offer each of the panelists the opportunity to address for up to a maximum of 5 minutes any points to which they want to respond or counter that have been raised by the other panelists, Dr. Hartle?
Dr. Hartle: Let me make a couple of points. First, Stanley indicated in his remarks that to him, the single biggest issue is the alleged boycott in the NSEP program. Stanley sometimes uses boycott in multiple ways. What he is talking about here, I think, is the unwillingness to work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison African language centers and sometimes I think he uses it in other ways but that is his meaning here. As I have already said, I have a note that I received yesterday from directors and representatives of the Title VI African national resource centers. It says, "We the undersigned directors and representatives of the Title VI African national resource centers state unequivocally that there is no boycott and there has been no boycott by our centers of the National African Language Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin, as it has been alleged erroneously and repeatedly in various public forums by Stanley Kurtz." And I mentioned earlier that there's a letter in the hearing record. Again if you want to take a look at it, I would be happy to share it. The letter in the hearing record addressed to Congressman Hoekstra, signed by the director of the African studies program with the director of the African national language resource center saying, "The current facts do not support Mr. Kurtz allegations that the nation's Title VI African Studies programs do not work together with Title VI and the NSEP funded,
(Garbled - Dr. Kurtz saying something like "current things").
Well but you said the boycott continues. You've made that very clear that the boycott continues. But my point that I want to make here is quite simply that Stanley insists that there's a boycott. The people who were the victims and the people who perpetrated say there was no boycott. What in the world is a federal advisory committee going to do about this? Are they going to send in the FBI to tap phones? Are they going to ask the FBI to go look at computer records? And is that what we want the federal government to do? I believe that the facts are clear and compelling that there was not any sort of a boycott. Dr. Kurtz is obviously going to believe differently and I'm not going to persuade him and he's not going to persuade me but what in the name of government do you expect the federal advisory committee to do? Nothing! What do you expect?
Second point, Stanley mentioned the Whitehead article and I thought I brought it with me. I don't think I have that. I assume he has a citation for it. I think that it is a good article and folks might want to look at that. The interesting thing about Ken Whitehead's article. You can read his article and you will not see or hear the following words: bias, boycott, leftist professorate, scam, Edward Said or David Wiley. Ken Whitehead's article raises what I think is a very important question: are our national needs being met with the current Title IV configuration? Are we as a nation and a society getting what we want? Ken Whitehead takes a totally different approach to why we need an advisory board than Stanley Kurtz does. Read Ken Whitehead's article and then read some of Stanley's and see if you think they are talking about the same thing. They're not. I continue to believe that the biggest problem with the advisory committee is that it has total discretion to do what it wants to as long as it does not get involved in curricula. And I emphasize that they are prohibited from messing with curricula. That's clear. But they can do things that I think we'll have a harmful influence on Title VI programs, on faculty members, on academic freedom.
Third point, the National Security Education program, NSEP, is one of those programs that does indeed have an advisory board. Dr. Kurtz mentioned several scholarship programs have advisory boards. NSEP happens to be one of them. By the way, they've never mentioned a boycott in the NSEP advisory board. I wonder why. Has it escaped them that this terrible boycott is going on? I don't think it would. I think they would have noticed but if that advisory committee missed it and all they look at is NSEP, why do we think another advisory committee at the Department of Education is the answer?
Finally, Stanley mentioned the appointment to the board; the appointment power is not bipartisan. It might well be what they intended, but the very clear language of the bill as it passed in the House says that the members would be appointed by the president, the speaker of the House, the president pro tem of the Senate after consultations with the minority party. No requirement that they take any nominees from the minority party. I would not like the advisory board if it were only answerable to Democrats. In case some of you don't realize, Democrats will regulate Higher Education too. They will regulate over different things. I would be totally opposed to any government advisory committee where it looked like all, one political party could under some circumstance appoint all the members.
Moderator: Thank you Dr. Hartle. Dr. Kurtz…
Dr. Kurtz: OK, a couple things. First of all, I would strongly advise you to go to the Chronicle of Higher Education which is supposedly the paper of record on Higher Education and I don't have the exact citation here. I believe the author's name is Anna-Marie Borrego, or something to that effect. Look at the article on the scholarly boycott of the NSEP. This is in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Just read the article. Read the continued use of the word boycott. Now, I have this memo and I am happy, by the way, to release this memo. I'll expunge the email address of all the various people, the Africans that are on this memo and the people coming to David Wiley, who is the national Director of Title VI, and saying: Please! Wisconsin has just applied for this NSEP. Can you please clarify what is going on here? And he says: There is no ambiguity. We don't apply to the NSEP or any national security related things. And here is this unanimous vote that we just took. As I say, sure they're backing off it now because it has got them in trouble but the memo is clear and unambiguous and look at the Chronicle of Higher Education article.
Now on the Kevorkian Center thing. Completely misses my point. My point is not that the woman who made that speech is impermissibly saying something she shouldn't say. My point was that everyone who took a political position in that program that was on 9/11 and Afghanistan essentially had the same political position. So I quoted something from each of those to establish that they all took the same position critical of American foreign policy. Did she also say that Osama bin Laden was a bad guy? Yeah, sure. But that's not the point. The point is that they all share the same essential political perspective. Furthermore, and my congressional testimony which is usually distorted into my claiming that every professor or most professors in Middle East Studies are anti-American. I talked about Edward Said, who I assumed was an American citizen, but mostly I talked about Robert Fisk, R.N. Dottie Ward and Tariq Ali who were assigned in this particular outreach program I talked about. None of them, by the way, are Americans. And I was saying: Look! All of these liberal magazines, even liberal magazines are calling them anti-American. My point on that was: don't assign them. I specifically said in my testimony that I'm not saying don't assign those people. I'm saying to have an outreach program that is assigning people so extreme that even liberal magazines, even Mother Jones is saying: these people are anti-American. You couldn't have someone who maybe supports American foreign policy on the other side? That was my point. The same is my point I was making about the Kevorkian Center.
Now, Jane Geyer's letter. Yes, no doubt, Jane Geyer is in big trouble with her fellow Africanists for having inadvertently written something that could be made use of later. I strongly suggest that you can find this on the Internet. Can't give you the exact URL. You go back to the original Jane Guyer thing. I've read her letter. It's a very awkward attempt to dance around this unfortunate thing that she says. I think and I didn't know that he was going to bring up this letter; I do not have the exact quotes. She goes on it says something to the effect of: Oh, I didn't say that this, that the Africanists… oh thank you but I don't have the time to read through the whole thing right now. I didn't say the Africanists, going from memory here, have made this into a political litmus test. No, what I really said was that the United States Government created a political litmus test by establishing the NSEP to begin with, but the fact is, what she wrote was, that there was a political litmus there. Oh, my five minutes are up. Well, all right I have a lot more…
Moderator: Thank you. Dr. Woods?
Dr. Woods- Yes I thought that in my, had I been, had time to finish my little biographical sketch there I might have gotten to the point where I think one of things I find most annoying about the kinds of criticisms I hear about these programs is the notion that somehow we are forced to lineup and vote whether we are Saidians or Lewisians. This certainly never happened in my education. Bernard Lewis was my professor at Princeton. I took a course with him. I am very happy to call myself, to say that I have an Orientalist formation. That doesn't disturb me in the least. I'm not ashamed of it. I've read Said. I've read Said's critics. Interesting points. Some things aren't. And that's the way we sort of teach our classes here also. There certainly is no, litmus test came up before, there's no kind of declaration although I was once asked to do this by none other than Martin Kramer who burst into my office one day and told me that we need to have different viewpoints. And I said "Well like whom?" And finally he said, "Like Bernard Lewis." And I said, "What is Bernard Lewis's viewpoint? And he did not tell me. I didn't know what it was except that if Bernard Lewis's Orientalist then I see several people in this room who are Orientalist and we've borne it I'd say fairly well over the years.
So this is, in other words, it makes a caricature of what we do here and that's my feeling to a lot of this type of criticism. It polarizes the debate in an utterly unreal, surreal way and then other kinds of things flow from that. It seems to me.
And the other question I had, do we really need an outside board of laymen essentially to stimulate intellectual activity in the University? Is that really something desirable or necessary? If so then what are universities supposed to be doing themselves? If the idea is that all federal programs need more oversight, well okay, okay. We can start with people like the CIA who dropped the ball after 1982 as far as making contact with area study centers. I could tell you a story about receiving a call from Leo Burnett, a large advertising agency here. An individual began to quiz me about Arab newspapers, community newspapers here in Chicago. I asked him why he was interested in finding this and he said, "Well, we're working for the Army. The Army is looking for Arabic translators." I said, "Do you know that there's a program called the National Defense Education Act program, NRC, FLAS whose mandate it is to produce people like that? He had never heard of such a thing and the Army had apparently never heard of such a thing. During the Iran-Contra hearings when the then Senator William Cohen was quizzing an Iranian arms dealer by the name of Albert Hakim. He asked Mr. Hakim rhetorically, "Mr. Hakim, are there no Americans who know Farsi so we don't have to deal with people like you?" Well, Mr. Hakim had no response to it, but I did and I wrote to Senator Cohen: And I said yes indeed, Senator Cohen, our government has been putting money into the National Defense Education Program for a long, long time and there are in fact many Americans who know Farsi. I being one of them. So the question you need to ask is why are these people not attracted to government service.
6) Response by panelists to pre-submitted questions from sponsors of event
Moderator: We are now at the point of posing the pre-selected questions, the so-called moderated questions. I have been asked by Daniel Barnard, the organizer, to ask the shortest questions first and so I will do so. The first question here is for all panelists. First a statement, then two questions.
The proposed advisory board would have broad powers to oversee and regulate the academic activities of scholars of international studies. First question: Are these powers a limitation on academic freedom? Second question: What are the appropriate limits on government oversight and regulation? Who wants to take this?
Dr. Kurtz: I'd like to speak to it.
Moderator: Thank you.
Dr. Kurtz: I have a sense to just repeat what I said but with a particular point to it. I think the question, the premise of the question is something I don't accept. The proposed advisory board would enjoy broad powers. It's an advisory board. It has zero powers. It has virtually no power. It is an advisory board. It gives advice. It's up to the Department of Education to either take or not take that advice. So where are the broad powers? This is only a question of sunlight. And people seem to be afraid of that and I find that very interesting.
Moderator: Other responses here. Dr…
Dr. Hartle: Stanley's wrong.
The, as I indicated with my examples, the advisory committee is independent of the Department of Education. It has a budget, and it can spend it anyway it chooses, doing anything it wants to. And it is this enormous grant of autonomy that is particularly worrisome in terms of what this advisory committee would do. There is nothing hard about writing up an advisory committee but if you want advisory committee that has the authority to go out and look for boycotts and to churn the waters and claim there is a boycott when people say, "no there never was," they need a big grant of authority, they need a lot of room to maneuver so they can do whatever they are going to do. I think this advisory committee has way too much autonomy and discretion and I think it is this combination of autonomy and discretion coupled with the ideological basis for creating the advisory committee. The ideological arguments. That's really an issue here.
Moderator: Do you want to make a suggestion on appropriate limits on such a committee? That would be fine.
Dr. Woods: I'd like to ask why is it needed first of all? If the main thing, it sounds like maybe African studies might need one, sounds like they're really, really bad. But I'm not sure why it's needed, because it seems to me that most of the points of criticism that are made turn out to be really quite empty after awhile. When you talk about, let's say, boycott of NSEP at this University for example. It is simply not the case! Three students were rewarded NSEP grants this year and the University of Chicago is not one of the ones that regularly gets these things. They tend to go mainly to universities inside the Beltway, which is kind of interesting. Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Georgetown, American University by far get the lion's share of these…
(Remark: Johns Hopkins is in Baltimore)
Excuse me, in the area. In the area. Excuse me. My geography is not the way…
Moderator: Thank you John. Ok, Second question: Do universities have a duty, let me reinterpret this as responsibility, to represent all of the major views of the U.S. political spectrum? And this is my parenthesis: presumably representation includes faculty and student composition and materials taught in courses. So, do the universities have a duty or responsibility to represent all of the major views of the US political spectrum?
Dr. Woods: As a university faculty member, I think I have to say something about this. Of course it is the duty of every university to provide the possibility of an informed and civil discussion of as many aspects as possible on a great spectrum. That is the central mission of the university as far as I know. And even to ask the question… Yes, yes it is. That is what we should be doing.
Dr. Hartle: I kind of wonder where you draw the line. I mean, if we're going to have a discussion about American politics, obviously we would talk about the Republicans, the Democrats. Would you talk about the Green party? Probably. Would you talk about Lyndon LaRouche? Would you talk about Ralph Nader's new party which I understand is called the Ego Party?
When do, the question I had is when does the word "major" come in to play because I think that's where you get in trouble when you say we're talking about the major stuff. This isn't major and somebody else says, "Oh yes it is."
Dr. Woods: Well, that's a discussion in itself, isn't it?
Dr. Hartle: (verbal sound of agreement)
Dr. Woods: That you can discuss that, why isn't it major? No, is it major no, it isn't major. That's what we do in universities. Exactly what we do.
Dr. Kurtz: I'd like to speak to this as well. Yes, the fine line is difficult and that's one reason why we have the curriculum provision in there to prevent that. But just setting aside the issue of the bill and getting back to what universities should strive for. I would think of it in terms of a concrete example. If you've got a great big department of Middle East studies or Near East studies or whatever you want to call it and they don't have at least a few professors there who support American foreign-policy, or who support Israel as opposed to the Palestinians when everyone else is saying something the other way, I think it does a disservice to the students. You know, there was a day when Deans would make a point of saying, "Hey, let's get the best Straussian conservative political philosopher that we can get, and let's get a liberal political philosopher and these newfangled postmodernists are coming in, let's get the top one of those that we can get too." But I think, if the department isn't sitting there saying… you know I mean, intelligence is reasonably evenly distributed across the population. And when you look at the university departments of area studies or Middle East studies and you compare that to the political views of the country, I think you have to say that the line has been crossed and something is out of whack and someone should make a positive effort to say, "let's bring in the best person that we can find who has a view that is really different than the other views here. And then they'll have their networks. They'll be able to create great public events by people on both sides, drawing great speakers to come in. Students will be able take courses from different points of view, and compare and contrast. That's what the purpose of academic freedom is supposed to be all about, to create a marketplace of ideas. So there's a big Near Eastern studies program, they don't have at least a few supporters of American foreign policy, or of Israel than presumptively we've got a serious problem here.
Dr. Hartle: I think we have a serious problem if we think that it is the purpose of universities is to hire faculty based on whether they support American foreign policy or oppose it.
(Large applause prevents immediate response by Dr. Kurtz)
Dr. Kurtz responding during applause: Well, you know, it's fascinating because there are ads that go out, spent advertising for a place, a guy who is an expert in post-colonial studies. You don't have to say it. It's a political perspective. It's built into the intellectual paradigm. It's all very easy. You just advertise for a postcolonial specialist and you know where they stand. You know, so what is going on here, the place has been thoroughly politicized, thoroughly politicized, and then all of the sudden everyone turns into John Stuart Mill when someone complains. No I don't buy it.
Moderator: Thank you…
Dr. Woods: Just one more thing. Excuse me, Mrs. Mueller, it seems to me that we're mixing up a couple of thing also. Middle East Centers don't hire faculty. We don't have the right to do this. This as an indictment of universities as a whole. It's not simply having to do with Middle East studies or African studies so basically maybe universities need an advisory board also.
(Garbled talking between panelists and then laughter)
Moderator: I think brief questions from the organizing, from the sponsoring organizations will give some continuity here. How should we measure success in government funded area studies? If area studies need to be fixed, what would be an effective fix? If area studies are successful, how do we ascertain that their mission has been accomplished? This is fundamentally a question about evaluation, and from what perspective.
Dr. Kurtz: Well, I'll speak to that for a moment. I don't think there's any magical answer there. I think, for one thing, you can evaluate it from the perspective of need. We need certain kinds of translators and experts. We don't have enough of them. That means we have to do more to try to fill that need.
I also think that it is important to note that we don't have good knowledge about what's really happening as far as how many people Title VI really puts into government. I've seen some really bad statistics going around. At universities at which there is a Title VI Center, X number of people from those universities have gone to work for government. That doesn't really tell you much about whether the students who are getting Title VI funding, per se, are using that in any significant number to go into government. We don't have the information. That's one of the things a board could do is begin to say, "Let's look. How are Title VI Center doing?" And on that basis you could set some realistic goals and gauge progress but until we get the information then I think a board is critical to that and we can't fully answer that very important question.
Dr. Wood: Seems to me that there's another problem again of definition: What are these programs supposed to do and I am going back all the way to 1959 when money first became available there. Was the idea, national defense, was the idea to parachute young Americans into Afghanistan speaking absolutely fluent Pashtun to defend American interests on the ground or was the intent to create cadres of informed people in these areas doing a whole variety of kinds of things? Until we get that sort of notion about what we are trying to do with this and not simply respond in some knee-jerk way, albeit to a very serious situation to which many parts of the government seem very unable to assess and take advantage of what resources have been created in the 45 years that Title VI has been alive, then I think we are not going to be able to answer some of these questions.
Moderator: Thank you. Dr. Hartle?
Dr. Hartle: I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Stanley. I wonder how much trouble this'll get me in. I think that those are very important questions about whether or not various Title VI programs. Remember, it's 10 different programs. There are some programs that have nothing to do with this part of the university. They're over at the business school but they are also in Title VI and I think particularly when we're in an environment where there's not going to be that much additional money for government activities of any sort in the discretionary area that it's very important that we try to agree what is we want out of each of the various programs in the Higher Education Act. Not simply Title VI but across-the-board. And we set some benchmarks and we see if we are getting what it is that we want. But obviously we know that the nation isn't getting enough speakers in less commonly taught foreign languages, particularly those that one finds in the Middle East and Asia and we need to address that pretty vigorously. So I think that laying out much more clearly what it is that we would like out of Title VI would be a very good thing to do.
Moderator: I'm going to take the liberty of asking the last brief question. There are two rather wordy multi-part ones but this has been my instruction. So this is question six, panelists, from the original set of questions circulated to you.
In the last several years, students from a cluster of schools have been well represented at the awards of the national security Education program scholarships while students from other schools have rarely received such scholarships. We had an allusion to this. How do you account for this difference and is the difference significant?
Dr. Hartle: I have no idea how to account for the difference. I think that it would be a very good thing for the NSEP advisory committee to be looking into. Why they're not getting applications from some institutions, why do they seem to be getting them from other institutions? It's interesting question.
Dr. Kurtz: I'd like to address that. I really suggest that you go find that article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, something about scholars and boycotts by Anna-Marie Borego or... I just don't have the exact spelling. And in the beginning of the article, as I recall, she's saying "Look, they just tried to establish this cousin of the NSEP, called the National Flagship Language Initiative, and they're really looking for Arabic translators, but the amazing thing is that you've got this great department at Michigan, I believe it was, which has this tremendous reputation for Arabic studies and yet they have refused to cooperate with the program." So I mean, I think that the boycott clearly has had an effect. And you know, people can point to the people who go into government, but how do you point to the people who didn't go in because the professors weren't telling them about it or discouraging them from it? I published in one of my NRO pieces a link to a letter that goes out to students at Wiley's school saying, basically, scaring the pants off of them about the NSEP. And how many people didn't do it because professors were trying to stop them?
Dr. Hartle: The article is from the Chronicle of Higher Education, August 16th, 2002. "Scholars Revive Boycott of US Grants to Promote Language Training: Do links to the Pentagon Tarnish the Program, or are Some Professors Posturing?" I mentioned that Stanley sometimes uses boycott in multiple ways. This is another use of the word boycott. Remember, initially we were talking about the University of Wisconsin Center. What he is now claiming is that some schools refuse to apply for grants from this particular program because they don't like the strings and conditions that come with it. Elsewhere, he repeatedly said that if you don't like the terms…
Dr. Kurtz: Was the word boycott in there? Scholars revive what? Boy-cott.
Dr. Hartle: Let me finish, then you can have your turn. Let me finish. Boycott in this context means that they are not applying for grants because they don't like the terms and conditions of the grant.
Dr. Kurtz: And it's called a boycott.
Dr. Hartle: And it's called.
Dr. Kurtz: By the Chronicle
Dr. Hartle: And it's called
Dr. Kurtz: of Higher Education. So that this idea that there's no boycott. Clearly the Chronicle is wrong.
Dr. Hartle: Stanley, Stanley, I'll give you your turn.
Dr. Kurtz: Ok, I'm sorry.
Dr. Hartle: The Chronicle calls it a boycott. Stanley usually says if you don't like the terms and conditions of the grant, don't take the subsidies. Well that seems to be exactly what they're doing here. They're not taking the subsidies because they don't like the terms and conditions. Are some scholars boycotting applying for grants that they don't want? Yes. Is that bad? How do we put a gun at their head and say you have to apply for this grant because we want to give it to you?
Dr. Kurtz: Well no, it's a question if you're giving them a subsidy.
Dr. Hartle: Well, I'll
Dr. Kurtz: I'm sorry
Dr. Hartle: Go ahead
Dr. Kurtz: Someone is coming to the federal government and saying "Hey, give us a subsidy. We can help you perform a service. Oh, by the way, that other thing that helps to perform the service, the terms and conditions of it aren't suitable to us." Seems for me completely reasonable to say, "Well, if those terms and conditions aren't suitable, then you really aren't the kind of person that ought to be getting the subsidy because the whole purpose of this subsidy is to help encourage things like NSEP. So you make a choice that if you don't want NSEP, why should you want Title VI?"
Dr. Hartle: I think because Title VI and NSEP come with different terms and conditions. The issue with NSEP that has been a problem with this particular program for years is that the program is housed in the Department of Defense. There are concerns by some faculty members that putting the department in the Department of Defense with ties to this CIA are very problematic for people who are doing work in countries that might not be friends of the United States. The proposal has been made repeatedly to put the program in the Department of Education. Most folks who have reservations about the NSEP would cheerfully apply for money if it came from .edu, not from .mil. There is a
Dr. Kurtz: But that's the whole point of the program.
Dr. Hartle: very big difference.
Dr. Kurtz: There is a very big difference. That's the point.
Dr. Hartle: This is a principled argument by people that on one hand he says ought a turn down subsidies if they don't like terms and conditions. They do it. And then he wants to take away other money.
Dr. Kurtz: I just don't want them to turn down Title VI as well because they're both fundamentally following it to the same flow of purposes and Congress would be completely reasonable to say, "Well, although the terms and conditions are slightly different, if they don't like the terms and conditions of NSEP, then clearly Title VI is really not the kind of subsidy they ought to be getting either." A board could say presumptively, "If you don't like NSEP than how good a job could you be doing sending people to work in defense and intelligence agencies in the federal government." And that's why they just passed a big 26% increase after 9/11. Doesn't make any sense and wheedling around the fact, and besides they say, you know it's political boycott. All the stuff, "Oh, It's in the Department of Defense." It is a boycott!Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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