Some students at Cornell University’s main campus in New York are questioning whether it is appropriate for Qatar’s first lady to sit on the board of the school’s medical college after learning about Qatar’s Alaween Social Rehabilitation Center.
The center, which treats addictions to alcohol, drug and Internet use, as well as deviant and unusual sexual behaviors, was founded by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser in 2006.
According to the SRC’s website, part of its mandate is to counsel those with homosexual tendencies. It cites one example of a psychiatrist counseling a woman in a relationship with another woman to stop “her unhealthy sexual behavior” and separate from her partner.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports:
Members of Cornell’s Student Assembly had planned to propose a resolution calling for the University to investigate the matter at its meeting Thursday, but decided on Tuesday to delay the vote…
“I personally don’t believe [The Al Aween Center] is a viable option in finding a ‘cure’ for homosexuality,” said (Nate Treffeisen, LGBTQ Liaison at Large for the Student Assembly, who had worked on drafting the resolution).
“I don’t think the standards Cornell has here should be different anywhere else in the world. When something like this comes along, you start to question that.”
As a member of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers, the Sheikha is part of a team that makes important managerial decisions related to the medical college. She also helped to bring a branch of Weill Cornell’s medical school to Qatar.
Ramzy, Qatar editor of Gay Middle East asks:
How can one of the main players of Weill Cornell in Qatar believe that gays and lesbians not only can be, but SHOULD be rehabilitated, and has set up a social rehabilitation center to do just that? How is this affecting the teaching that is being done at the school?
When it comes to teaching about homosexuality, which is surely a subject that would come up at a medical school, how does Weill Cornell in Qatar deal with this? If the message from the President of Weill Cornell’s funding body in Qatar and an overseer of the school as a whole is funding rehabilitation for gays and lesbians, surely the school is restricted in teaching about such an important issue? Or, is their teaching skewed towards the idea that homosexuality is wrong?
Though students have yet to demand the school launch any formal investigation into the matter, the story has been one of the Daily Sun’s most popular reads this week.
And as Qatar makes more inroads into education and development, it will surely have to learn how to balance its conservative Islamic values with more liberal Western philosophies.
What do you guys think?