Defending a Patriotic Arab Student's Rights · 30 March 2005


By FrontPage Magazine--03/31/05

Overview
Sara Dogan, National Campus Director of SAF

Ahmad al-Qloushi, a Kuwaiti Muslim and student at Foothill College, was born and raised in Al-Shaab, Kuwait. He was three years old in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He arrived in America for the first time only 7 months ago at the age of 17 to study at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California.

Ahmad enrolled in a course on "Introduction to American Government and Politics" taught by Professor Joseph Woolcock, but was shocked to find that the course was taught from a consistently anti-American perspective. The final straw came when the class was instructed to complete a take-home final exam which asked students to "Analyze the US constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded the majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America's elite interest." Ahmad chose to write an essay defending America's Founding Fathers and upholding the Constitution as a progressive document which has contributed to freedom beyond America's borders.

Ahmad describes what happened next: "Professor Woolcock didn't grade my essay. Instead he told me to come to see him in his office the following morning. I was surprised the next morning when instead of giving me a grade, Professor Woolcock verbally attacked me and my essay. He told me, 'Your views are irrational.' He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me 'America is not God's gift to the world.' Then he upped the stakes and said 'You need regular psychotherapy.' Apparently, if you are an Arab Muslim who loves America you must be deranged. Professor Woolcock went as far as to threaten me by stating that he would visit the Dean of International Admissions (who has the power to take away student visas) to make sure I received regular psychological treatment."

Woolcock responded by filing a school grievance against Ahmad accusing him of an "act or threat of intimidation or general harassment."

Professor Woolcock has sent a response to us which we have agreed to publish, followed by Ahmad's response below.


Statement by David Horowitz

I have met Ahmad al-Qloushi, a seventeen-year-old Kuwaiti student who had been in this country less than five months when these events occurred and exactly five months when he came to see me. Ahmad spoke English so flawless that I thought he was a California native, which is but one indication of his precocious intelligence. I asked him to write an article about what happened at Foothill, which he did and which can be read here. Ahmad's article required no editing and appears as it was written. FrontPage Magazine publishes articles by writers twice Ahmad's age who are native born that require editing and are not nearly as articulate. The fact that this student was failed (and in an environment of such rampant grade inflation that students hardly get C's anymore) is an indication of how disingenuous Ahmad's professor is in the attached letter. Professor Woolcock is in fact the leader of a very ugly campaign, abetted by leftwing websites to destroy a student's reputation. Just imagine if Ahmad was an Arab professor under this kind of attack -- the AAUP, CAIR, and the entire blogophere of the left would be up in arms about his persecution.

One other point. Professor Woolcott's claim that he was solicitous about Ahmad's "high anxiety" is equally spurious. Ahmad told me that Professor Woolcock told him he would send him to the Dean in charge of student visas if he refused to take the counseling, a clear threat to have him deported.

This whole episode is a disgrace and an indication of why colleges need to defend students' academic freedom.

Professor's Woolcock's Denial

I have been asked by a number of news and web based organizations about my interaction in late November 2004 with a Foothill College student Ahmad al-Qloushi. This is my response.

In mid-November 2004, Ahmad al-Qloushi came to see me at my request to discuss the outline of his Final Research Paper assignment in the course: "Introduction to American Government & Politics." He had failed to write the mid-term assignment and had chosen to write his final paper on a topic we both agreed would be a challenge for him. Recognizing that he would have difficulty completing the assignment, I offered him the opportunity to write his paper on a less challenging topic from the mid-term assignment list of topics. We agreed that should he take up the offer, I would not only discount the points he failed to earn at mid-term, but I would also work with him on the outline, and on the review of a draft copy of the paper before he submitted it for grading. Mr. al-Qloushi agreed to do that. However, he turned in his final written assignment without returning for the assistance which we had agreed on earlier. When I read the paper, it became clear to me that it did not respond to the question.

In late November, after grading all final papers, I asked Mr. al-Qloushi to come and discuss with me the grade. During this meeting, I sought from him his reasons for reneging on our earlier agreement. In response, he expressed in great detail, concerns and feelings of high anxiety he was having about certain developments which had occurred over ten years ago in his country. Some aspects of his concerns were similar to certain concerns expressed in his paper.

Based on the nature of the concerns and the feelings of high anxiety which he expressed, I encouraged him to visist one of the college counselors. I neither forced nor ordered Mr. al-Qloushi to see a counselor; I have no authority to do so. My suggestion to him was a recommendation he freely chose to accept and which he acknowledged in an e-mail message to me on December 1, 2004.

Foothill College counselors are competent and highly respected professionals capable of providing professional services to students, and faculty members are always encouraged by the college administration to make such referrals to college counselors as the need may arise.

In my conversation with Mr. al-Qloushi, I did not make any reference, explicitly or implicity, to the Dean of International Students or to any other Dean. In my conversation with Mr. al-Qloushi, I did not make any reference, explicit or implicit, to Mr. al-Qloushi¹s status as an international student. At the time of our conversation, Mr. al-Qolushi was still enrolled in my class, but after he met with the counselor, he never returned to the class.

I deny unequivocally all the allegations Mr. al-Qloushi has attributed to me regarding my suggestion to him that it might be helpful for him to discuss his long-standing concerns with a college counselor, as I have described here. All the other allegations made are false and have no basis whatsoever in fact.

Professor Joseph A. Woolcock

Ahmad al-Qloushi's response

My complaint is not about how technically good or bad I am as a student. If I failed that class based on my performance, then so be it. I wrote my midterm but was not permitted to turn it in because it was two hours late. That's fair enough. My complaint instead is that I was attacked for my political beliefs that I expressed in my final exam. I was sent to counseling because I love America, and that makes me "naïve" in the words of Professor Woolcock. That, precisely, is my complaint, it has nothing to do with the technical merits of my essay at all.

Professor Woolcock asked each student to choose what he or she wanted to write. Professor Woolcock suggested that I write on a topic that he himself chose. There absolutely was no agreement that I would do so. Why am I suddenly the only person in the class that is not permitted to choose my topic? If choosing the topic in fact is the problem, why was I the only person in my class that was sent to counseling for doing so? If we were not supposed to choose our topic, shouldn't every one of my classmates be sent to counseling as well for choosing their topics?

Finally, even if choosing my own topic was not permitted, wouldn't the solution be to give me a bad grade? I suspect if you ask the professor, he'll tell you that he doesn't send every student who writes a bad essay or doesn't meet course requirements to psychological treatment. So you see, the facts just don't support the professor's claims.

My essay is passionate about America, but it is not "emotional." Finally, the claim that I was sent to counseling for a war that occurred 15 years ago is just, well, convenient.

Ahmad al-Qloushi

To contact Ahmad, please email him at ahmadalqloushi@sbcglobal.net