Asked recently if Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) receives federal Title VI funds, director Osama Abi-Mershed answered, "we are not tax supported."
His dean, James Reardon-Anderson, begs to differ.
Following the revelation that the directors of six federally-funded Middle East studies centers signed a letter pledging "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions" in spite of "assurances" each gave to "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education," Foreign Policy Research Institute president Alan Luxenberg emailed each director and asked if their pledges were personal or apply to the centers they lead.
In response to an inquiry, Reardon-Anderson, acting dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, of which CCAS is a part, replied without commenting on Abi-Mershed's claim that:
Yes, we are very proud that the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support.
Reardon-Anderson stated that, "Of course, as an institution of higher learning, we respect the right of each member of our faculty, students or staff to exercise his or her freedom of speech." He also noted Georgetown president John DeGioia's official statement last December after the American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions, which he said "undermines the academic freedom that is essential to the mission of the Academy." Still, DeGioia affirmed, "While the position of our University remains opposed to any boycott, we will certainly defend the rights of those who disagree."
But will he defend the "rights" of those who, like Abi-Mershed, try to hide their federal support when faced with possible violations of federal policies? Does freedom of speech extend to freedom to one's own facts?
Reardon-Anderson's confirmation that CCAS receives taxpayer dollars exposes Abi-Mershed's dodgy answer, but information confirming the center's Title VI support is easily found on many Georgetown web pages.
Since 1997, CCAS has served as the core of Georgetown University's National Resource Center on the Middle East, funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Center's Newsletter stated in 2010 that:
CCAS is pleased announce that the National Resource Center on the Middle East (NRC) at Georgetown, of which CCAS is an integral part, has received $2 million in funding for the next four years from the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI program.
CCAS's K-14 Outreach page states:
The program is supported by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, private sector grants, and the U.S. Department of Education.
And CCAS's 2013-2014 Student Handbook for the M.A. in Arab studies states "major components" of CCAS include "a Title VI grant from the Department of Education."
Abi-Mershed's claim that CCAS is "not tax supported" is clearly false. Why should taxpayers trust him to use their dollars wisely and in accord with federal policies?