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Monday, September 27, 2021

BREAKING: Jocelyn Mitchell did not ‘voluntarily’ withdraw from $700,000 grant

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New details have emerged in the case surrounding a controversial research grant that was awarded to a professor accused of racism.

Professor Jocelyn Mitchell, who made national headlines for racist comments, was forced to withdraw from the controversial $700,000 Qatar National Research Fund [QNRF] grant, Doha News has learned.

The new information is in stark contradiction to an earlier statement sent by the the Northwestern University-Qatar professor to Doha News on Tuesday, in which she said she would “not be taking part in the research moving forward” without revealing that the entire team had withdrawn.

Sources told Doha News she had refused to remove herself from the research project, prompting the Lead Principal Investigator Professor Jin to withdraw herself and the entire team from the awarded QNRF grant.

Read also: Pressure mounts on professor accused of racism

In an exclusive statement to Doha News, Professor Jin confirmed she had cancelled the project almost a week before Mitchell’s public withdrawal and apology on Tuesday evening.

“As the lead principal investigator [LPI], I, with my team, decided to withdraw our grant proposal, as a group, on February 10th,” Jin told Doha News on Wednesday.

Liberal Arts Director at NUQ, Sami Hermez, confirmed to Doha News that he had “advised Mitchell to withdraw on February 5 so as to minimise reputational damage”. However, a withdrawal did not materialise, he added.

The requests for Mitchell’s withdrawal came after the professor’s previous racially driven blogpost was brought to the public’s attention, which surfaced after it was announced that she would take part in a research grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This caused public outrage, with locals expressing concern surrounding Mitchell’s offensive remarks towards Qataris and other ethnicities, especially since the grant was provided to to research Qatari female entrepreneurship.

Read also: Professor who made racist comments against Qataris awarded $700,000 funding grant

After the furore on social media, an email condemning the racist comments and asking Mitchell to step down from the grant was sent and signed by 8 faculty member at Northwestern University in Qatar [NUQ].

“Echoing advice given to Dr. Mitchell by the Director of the Liberal Arts Program, we encourage her to withdraw from the research team for the benefit of the NUQ community and the QNRF-funded research project,” said the email sent by the Liberal Arts professors.

The statement was sent to the NU-Q community of staff, faculty, and students, and took a firm stance against the 2008 comments, which were only removed after previous uproar in 2015, the email read.

The racist blogs

In 2008, a blog run by Mitchell and her husband published a post entitled: “You know you’re in Qatar if”, which included a listicle of xenophobic and racist remarks.

Among the comments made in the post was “the ratio of ugly women to not so ugly women is 9:1.” The only murders to take place in Qatar are when “an Indian construction worker sleeps with a Phillipino [sic] construction worker’s wife. The [sic] usually slap each other to death in a cat-fight resembling manner,” the post added.

Professor Mitchell’s students have accused her of coining and using the term “Qatarded,” a combination of the words “Qatar” and “retarded” to describe Qataris.

The blog was later removed by Mitchell in 2015, several years after she started working at the Doha-based institute and teaching the same community she once directed racist abuse towards.

Read also: Combatting racism in academia: Why it shouldn’t be normalised or rewarded

When the blog post surfaced in 2019, a student protest movement erupted on-campus demanding the university takes action against several misconducts, including Professor Mitchell’s offensive and racist comments.

Mitchell then issued a public apology for her actions, saying she was deeply sorry for offending anyone and confirming the removal of the blog. But even with the apology, the local community remained enraged, saying an apology without any discipline or consequences from the institute itself was not enough.

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