Controversy remains despite bid for female campus
Though Algonquin’s campus in Saudi Arabia appears to have stabilized after a turbulent start of 2016, critics of the foreign campus have remained as vigilant as ever.
“The board simply does not reflect the community opinion.” said Jack Wilson, the OPSEU representative responsible for much of the criticism initially placed on the campus. Wilson raised some additional concerns after observing the state of the campus for the past few months.
The recent announcement of a bid for a female campus was met with as much skepticism as the all-male campus installed in 2013. “Keep in mind, why did we want to get into Saudi Arabia in the first place?” said Wilson, when asked his opinion on the all-female campus. “Was it no bring enlightenment? It was to make money.”
Wilson remarked on the fact that Algonquin College provides employees of the Jazan campus with abduction insurance, and asked if they would offer that form of insurance in campuses in China or India.
“I think the whole thing’s a bad idea.” said Kelly Egan, a columnist from the Ottawa Citizen. Egan was critical of the campus at the time of its establishment, and columns opposing the school’s presence in Saudi Arabia.
Egan went on to say that he’s “not quite sure what the board was thinking when they approved this” in regards to the campuses in general.
The sentiment of the Jazan critics has remained largely the same since the start of the issue in late 2013, and has even been strengthened by the recent developments. With the introduction of the war in Yemen to the list of problems the campus has concerned itself with, a new round of critiques has begun.
“I’m not sanguine that [Jazan] is a safe place.” Said Wilson, in regards to the campus and its proximity to the border.
While students may not see immediate danger, the reputation of Saudi Arabia is again on the line with the starvation in Yemen being caused by the Saudi Naval blockade.