There are some deliciously absurd aspects to this story. For one thing, Centennial continues to pretend it didn't realize it was operating in a country where there is strictly-enforced gender apartheid. If chicks didn't participate in the this dudes-only program, Centennial claims in its statement, it isn't because they were outright barred from enrolling (even though there's no way they would have been allowed to sign up), it's because
It is unlikely that there are any women in the automotive field in Saudi Arabia — ironically, the same situation the industry faced in Canada decades ago."Ironically"? I don't think so. Because even decades ago women were allowed to drive cars, and even work in factories--remember Rosie the Riveter?--something that wasn't the case in S.A.
As if equating Canada and Saudi Arabia wasn't outrageous enough, Centennial made things worse when it
seemed to blame the fact that women in Saudi Arabia were forbidden to drive until recently as the reason for the shortage of women in that profession.
Then, too, there's the absurdity of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who seems clueless re the religious basis of Saudi Arabia's gender segregation. She seems to think that if an Ontario college opens a branch there, it should be able to abide by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday that it was her understanding that there was a discussion with Centennial, along with other colleges such as Niagara and Algonquin that offer similar programs, about women having access to the programs.
“My position is that if we are going to be engaged in the delivery of education in other parts of the world, then men and women must have equal access.
“That is a minimum we can expect in 2016,” Wynne said.In light of Imam Wynne's fatwa on sharia-based inequities, I'm sure there will be much rumination and discussion in Saudi Arabia's princely corridors of power.
Update: Salaam Alaikum! That's the familiar greeting you'll hear in a promotional video for Niagara College-Taif, a male-only campus "located in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia":
Update: Found this on Wikipedia:
Taif Campus At Ta'If, Makkah, Saudi Arabia 26526
The college is currently establishing a national centre of excellence in tourism, hospitality and business innovation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Programs such as Business and Management Studies, Culinary Studies and Hospitality and Tourism Studies are offered to male Saudi citizens. A specialty program, 'Foundation Year Studies' is designed to set students up for success by teaching them English communications, entrepreneurship and computer.Makkah--otherwise know to us infidels as Mecca.
So not only is Niagara College in cahoots with folks who practice gender apartheid, it is operating in a suburb of a city that's strictly off limits to non-Muslims (lest we defile it with our infidel cooties).
Any comments, Premier Wynne?
Update: You can read all about Niagara's adventures in the Magic Kingdom on this blog. (I must say, the food looks yummy!)
Update: Kathleen Wynne calls male-only campuses in Saudi Arabia 'unacceptable'
Update: It appears that Niagara College has two campuses in the Kingdom--one in Taif and one in Mecca.
Here's a job posting (now expired) for "Student Recruitment Officers"--one for Taif; 3-4 for Makkah.
The "preferred candidate" is, of course, "male." (And, it goes without saying, Muslim.)
This line make me giggle:
Niagara College Saudi Arabia is committed to workplace diversity and provides accommodations to applicants with disabilities throughout"Workplace diversity."
In Saudi Arabia.
Now, that's funny!
Update: Andrew Lawton nails it (in the Toronto Sun): Saudi school support [goes] against our values.