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International Studies Heads Warn of Poisonous Contradiction in House Bill

International Studies Heads Warn of Poisonous Contradiction in House Bill

San Francisco Chronicle airs call by heads of UCLA and UC Berkeley international studies for Senate to head off "witch-hunts" by reducing proposed military role in university oversight.

Leslie Evans Email LeslieEvans

The December 9 San Francisco Chronicle published an opinion piece by Geoffrey Garrett, vice provost of UCLA's International Institute, and David Leonard, dean of UC Berkeley's International and Area Studies, calling attention to ominous riders attached to this year's reauthorization of Title VI of the Higher Education Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. Title VI which funds foreign language teaching and international studies. The House riders provide for greatly expanded government oversight of international studies programs at American universities, and propose to give a large role in the new controls to agencies with national security responsibilities, including the State Department, but also including the Defense Department and the CIA.

Seeing a serious threat to academic freedom and the potential weakening of the international ties of U.S. institutions of higher learning, the two University of California leaders warned that such military and intelligence agency involvement in higher education "threatens to jeopardize the fundamental goals the program is designed to support." Though ostensibly undertaken to broaden the views presented in university programs, the proposed House revisions of Title VI, the two educators said, provide for heavy involvement of agencies not known for encouraging dissenting views. This was far more likely to narrow the viewpoints available to students.

Garrett and Leonard called on the U.S. Senate to amend the House riders and to expand the proposed government oversight committees to favor the State Department, businesses involved in international trade, and "nongovernmental organizations with expertise and interest in international education."

The full text of their article is available on the San Francisco Chronicle's website, SF Gate, at:

 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/12/09/EDGFS3IQ711.DTL

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