Even before Vanderbilt University has finalized any plans, students are objecting to the institution’s interest in developing educational ties with the United Arab Emirates. Two students have started a new group, Students Against Vanderbilt in the Emirates, or Save, which will “work to combat the perception that a Vanderbilt campus in Abu Dhabi would benefit the university, the city of Nashville, or the state of Tennessee,” according to a statement. The group’s organizers say they are worried about anti-Israeli government policies, workers’ and gay rights abuses, and the lack of academic freedom, citing recent news about the detention of Nasser bin Ghaith, a political activist and lecturer at the Sorbonne campus in Abu Dhabi.
They outlined their concerns in a recent opinion article in the Vanderbilt student newspaper. The newspaper last week reported that Vanderbilt’s chancellor met with Abu Dhabi officials to discuss potential cooperation.