1435 Morris Avenue - Suite 3A, Union, NJ 07083
Tim Haresign, President
Kean University Wenzhou Campus in China
Comes Under Scrutiny
In the dark days of McCarthyism, communists or suspected communists were often blacklisted from employment. Kean University has turned this odious practice on its head by condoning employment criteria at its China campus that discriminate against non-communists.
In 2012 Kean established a campus in Wenzhou, China in partnership with the Chinese government. This summer, it posted job openings for thirty positions on its Kean-Wenzhou website . For two of those positions, “Specialist for Residence Life” and “Specialist for Student Contact,” the announcements specified “membership in the Chinese Communist Party is preferred.”
Kean University employs faculty as as well as non-faculty at Wenzhou. Faculty are hired through Kean’s HR department and are represented by the Kean Federation of Teachers. Other employees, including those who provide student services, are hired by local administrators. However Kean took no responsibility for the conduct of its Chinese partners, insisting their Wenzhou campus personnel practices are strictly under Wenzhou's control.
Employment discrimination at Kean Wenzhou is not limited to these two positions. Its official employment application requires applicants to list their political affiliation, as well as other personal information, including nationality, age, marital status and height.
Kean’s assurance that an employment preference for Chinese Communist Party members complies with China’s laws is unacceptable. China is not a democratic country. Human rights violations are widespread. American colleges and universities, on the other hand, are bound by labor and employment laws that prohibit discrimination based on political affiliation, race, gender, age, sexual preference, disability etc., and so should their satellite campuses overseas.
Other U.S. based universities with campuses and academic partnerships in China, including NYU and Kansas’ Fort Hays State appear not to prefer Communist Party membership in employment, nor do they request information about an applicant’s personal information or political status.
Tim Haresign, Council of New Jersey State College Locals President commented “I believe this is an extremely serious issue and that the Senate and Assembly Higher Education Committee should hold hearings on all expenses and labor practices at Wenzhou Kean.”
A press release issued by the Council in August sparked a round of media attention to Kean’s practices in Wenzhou, including front page coverage in the Star Ledger and televised segments on NJTV and WWOR.
Kean’s expenses came under scrutiny in November 2014 when it was revealed that its president Dawood Farahi, spent $219,000 on a conference table. The table was purchased from a Chinese manufacture without any competitive bidding. Our understanding is that the table is rarely used. This is just one example of irresponsible conduct by Kean University.
This is the same president who authorized the construction of an upscale restaurant called Ursino in 2012 that cost $2.5 million. The University does not even have a culinary or hospitality program. Ursino recently closed its doors, claiming to be under renovation, but there is no indication when or if it will reopen. Under the Farahi administration, Kean also purchased Liberty Hall for $5.1 million in 2006, leased it back to the Kean family foundation and pays the foundation $200,000 annually for its upkeep.
In face of these frivolous expenses, Kean University is currently contemplating the layoff of up to forty professional staff. Four years ago it laid off twelve professional staff and only a few months ago it subcontracted its maintenance operations, eliminating fifty union jobs. No other state college or university has cut or plans to cut personnel. Once again, Kean is the rogue element in our system of NJ public higher education.