The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. offers a course on Real Estate for prospective real estate agents. Lesson three deals with "Land Ownership and the Law of Tort" and concerns such matters as "negligence on the part of salespeople and agents in performing their duties." For example (an actual example from the lesson plan), what happens if a banana peel is found on the floor of an open house? This is followed by multiple-choice answers which the student must choose from. Sounds pretty innocuous.
But Middle East politics rears its ugly head at question 10 on p. 7 of that lesson (a pdf version is on the UBC website but requires a password; I have posted it on my site). It posits the following scenario:
Quin owned acreage in Langley which he leased to Abu Nidal as a training camp for freedom fighters. Jane operated a mink farm on the property next to Quin's land. As a result of gunfire and explosions taking place at Abu Nidal's training camp, every year for 3 years in the breeding seasons Jane's minks became distraught and died.
The multiple-choice answers then ask who is responsible for the damage, Quin, Abu Nidal, or Jane.
Comments: (1) So far as I know, there is only one publicly known Abu Nidal, the arch Palestinian terrorist; the use of that name and the scenario featuring "gunfire and explosions" in a town called Langley (where the CIA happens to be located, though it is also a small farming community in British Columbia) all points to this being the person referred to.
(2) Calling Abu Nidal a "freedom fighter" is a moral perversion – the sort of thing only a university would tolerate.
(3) The rot in Canadian universities is not limited to the social sciences but extends even to the real estate division of a business school. (August 17, 2005)
Aug. 18, 2005 update: Within a day of this posting, I am pleased to report, the Sauder School replaced the rogue question 10 with an acceptable alternative:
Quin owned acreage in Langley which he leased to Simon as an explosives testing site. Jane operated a mink farm on the property next to Quin's land. As a result of the explosions taking place at Simon's site, every year for 3 years in the breeding seasons Jane's minks became distraught and died.
Comment: The good news is, when the business school makes a political mistake, it is more likely to fix it. Thank you, Sauder School.
Aug. 22, 2005 update: The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's two national papers, today has an article, "UBC pulls Abu Nidal reference from course," on Abu Nidal and the mink farm scenario. In it, Dale Griffin, assistant dean of academics for the Sauder School of Business, is paraphrased saying "the reference was not appropriate and was removed" and "the question has been part of the course since 1991 and it is not known who wrote it."
(Less accurately, the Globe and Mail ascribes this critique to Campus Watch, which deals only with Middle East studies, not real estate instruction; and it mischaracterizes what Campus Watch does; but then, the newspaper has a history of getting that wrong.)
Nov. 21, 2006 update: Khalid Chahlou, a Moroccan immigrant and first-year Spanish teacher at Smithfield-Selma Senior High School in Smithfield, N.C., is said to be "the most softest-spoken, most gentle, kindest person I've come across," according to Shakil Ahmed, president of the Islamic Association of Cary. Ahmed should know, as Chahlou teaches Arabic and religious studies to children at the local mosque. Trouble is, Chahhou concocted some materials for his Spanish class, while upset about the latest developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he then decided to express by loading a word-search puzzle which included this sentence:
Sharon killed a lot of innocent people in Palestine. Hamas is not a terrorist group. They have the right to defend their country. This is something that forms part of our freedom and dignity. Allah help destroy this body of evil that is making human life so miserable. Destroy America, a country where evil is sponsored.
School administrators confronted Chahhou and he promptly resigned. The Johnston County Sheriff's Office reviewed the problem but decided not to file criminal charges.
Chris McDaniels, a high-school sophomore, captured the problem acutely: "I think some of the people in the class were kind of afraid, because how the world is today, you never know with people. Even if you've known them for a while, they could turn out to be someone completely different." At the same time, Steve Scroggs, who oversees hiring for the school district in question, insisted that he can't raise political topics when hiring. "You simply can't ask someone's political ideology during an interview, any more than you can ask them their religion, or any more than you can ask them other personal information."
Comment: Perhaps, in time of war, it's time to drop the inhibitions on learning a person's outlook on life before giving him access to children?