Rancho Santiago Community College District Keeps Controversial Saudi Arabia Contract

Saudi-style justice
Saudi-style justice
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In July 2014, when the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees named the Santiago Canyon College Library after civil rights pioneer Lorenzo Ramirez (one of the five fathers who were plaintiffs in the landmark Mendez, et al v. Westminster school desegregation case in the late 1940s), then board president Jose Solorio called Ramirez "a hero to our community and to all people who believe that everyone deserves equal rights ..."

Do you know who doesn't believe that everyone deserves equal rights? Those who have been in power positions in Saudi Arabia for centuries. That did not stop the RSCCD board this week from continuing its controversial $105 million consulting contract with two technical schools in the Middle Eastern country, however.

Santiago Canyon College Names Library in Honor of Lorenzo Ramirez, Plaintiff in Mendez, et al v. Westminster

Trustees, who oversee Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon in Orange, met Monday to discuss the consulting agreement, which provides the Saudi schools with a teacher training program, infrastructure upgrades and an updated curriculum, reports the Orange County Register.

Among those who defended the deal was district Chancellor Raul Rodriguez, who told trustees that it does not amount to a district endorsement of Saudi Arabia's human rights record. A dozen or so other district employees blasted the pact, particularly in light of Saudi's stand on human rights.

"They are not passive racists over there; they are aggressive racists," Santa Ana College criminal justice professor George Wright reportedly told the Register. "They are very aggressive homophobics. They are very aggressive anti-semites."

On the bright side, the district board refrained from re-naming Lorenzo Ramirez Library the House of Saud West.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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