WENZHOU, China – A New Jersey union is taking issue with job advertisements for Kean University’s satellite campus in China that give preference to those in the Chinese Communist Party.
“Membership in Chinese Communist Party is preferred” for positions of “specialist for resident life” and “specialist for student conduct” at Wenzhou-Kean University in China’s Zhjiang Province, though other open positions don’t specify a political party preference, Inside Higher Ed reports.
“I believe this is an extremely serious issue and that the (New Jersey) Senate and Assembly Higher Education and Labor Committees should hold hearings on all expenses and labor practices as related to Wenzhou-Kean,” said Tim Haresign, president of the Council of New Jersey State College Locals, told NJ.com.
Kean’s China campus is a partnership between the university and China’s Wenzhou University. Kean officials at the university’s main campus in New Jersey contend the apparently discriminatory job postings come from the Chinese government that oversees Wenzhou.
“The agreement that helped establish the Wenzhou-Kean University partnership stipulates that Kean University is responsible for the academics at WKU and our Chinese partners are responsible for all general operations and student services,” Kean spokeswoman Susan Kayne said.
“All academic personnel are hired and employed by Kean University in accordance with the same laws, policies and practices at all Kean campuses. Operations personnel are hired by our Chinese partners in accordance with their laws,” she added.
Inside Higher Ed notes that’s not typically how it works when American universities establish campuses overseas.
“The norm for American colleges and universities with campuses abroad — especially in parts of the world that don’t share American values in hiring — is to state repeatedly that they hire as if hiring in the United States,” according to the site. “But the (non-American) hiring practices for nonacademic staff at WKU raise questions about whether Kean is upholding values central to American universities — antidiscrimination and academic freedom among them — at the campus that bears its name in China.”
Aside from the preference for Chinese communists to control students at Kern-Wenzhou, nonacademic applicants are also required to fill the “Wenzhou-Kean University Application Form” posted on Kean’s website that requests other information that would be illegal in the U.S., such as gender, birth date, nationality, birth place, marital status, a photo, political status and height, according to a Council press release.
The hiring in Wenzhou seems to be particularly grading to the union because Kean officials will be eliminating about the same number of jobs at home at the same time.
“The impending professional staff layoffs will undermine important services for our neediest students even while the university continues to raise the tuition and fees that they are required to pay,” Kean Federation of Teachers union president James Castiglione told NJ.com.
Michael A. Olivas, a distinguished law professor at the University of Houston, told Inside Higher Ed it’s not good that Kean is bending to Chinese laws.
“I think it’s a very problematic acquiescence to norms that wouldn’t fly here, and it’s not entirely clear that they can escape obligations to civil rights laws extraterritorially,” he said.
“These are fundamentally transgressive criteria that simply shouldn’t be used by U.S. institutions going abroad,” Olivas added. “If they do, they are not going to improve the ground that they find. They are only going to plow it down and acquiesce to regimes that need us more than we need them.”