Thursday, February 10, 2005

Qloushi-Woolcock Revisited 

A few weeks ago we had a story on Ahmad Qloushi, the Kuwaiti student who had a run-in with a professor over his essay. Courtesy of PoliBlog, there is a response from his professor, Joseph Woolcock of Foothill College. As I said on the NARN followup after interviewing Qloushi, I don't think the paper was very good, and I didn't have a major problem with Prof. Woolcock failing the paper. I did have a problem with what Qloushi believed was a threat from Woolcock that Qloushi had to seek counseling or else he would be reported to the Dean of International Students.
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.
Prof. Woolcock also denies any mention of reporting the incident to the Dean of International Students. Both Steven Taylor of Poliblog and "Rusty Shackleford" of My Pet Jawa find Woolcock's representation of the meeting with Qloushi credible.

I have two exceptions to their view. First, if there is an email between Qloushi and Woolcock, it should be presented. That might not be possible for Woolcock to do alone: Since Qloushi was still a student in the class at the time that email could be considered privileged. It would depend on Foothill College's rules, I would think. If I could interview him again, I would ask Qloushi whether or not this was the case. It could be a he said-she said thing. I agree with most everyone that his version could be correct. That doesn't mean it is.

Second, there are other events surrounding Woolcock's course that have been brought up, which are not addressed in Woolcock's letter.