UPDATE: VU announces closure of Confucius Institute after investigation
Valparaiso University announced Monday that the school will be closing its Confucius Institute.
The announcement comes less than three weeks after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced his office was launching an investigation into the VU Confucius Institute’s connection with the CCP.
Valparaiso University notified students, alumni, and staff Monday that the school will be closing their Confucius Institute.
The announcement comes less than three weeks after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced his office was launching an investigation into the VU Confucius Institute’s connection with the Chinese Communist Party.
VU President José Padilla told students that he had given the decision “considerable thought” and offered his rationale for closing the institute.
"For some time now, I have given considerable thought on whether we should continue to operate CIVU. A number of factors helped me reach the conclusion to close," Padilla stated. "First, some members of Congress reached out to the University in 2020 and earlier in 2021, questioning the presence of CIVU.”
He continued, “A federal law, the National Defense Authorization Act, already prohibits the Defense Department (DOD) from funding research at any university with a Confucius Institute. DOD funding is not the only federal funding at risk, Department of Education (DOE) funding may also be.”
In March, the US Senate unanimously passed a bill prohibiting the Department of Education from issuing funds to universities that host Confucius Institutes. According to Padilla, a potential cut-off of federal funding is “not a risk” the university can take.
Padilla insisted that “the Indiana Attorney General’s (AG) investigation into CIVU” is not the reason he chose to close it, despite making the decision less than three weeks after the investigation was announced.
Students applauded the university’s decision.
Ethan Decatur, Chairman of VU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, told Campus Reform “It is encouraging to see the university decide to close their chapter of the Confucius Institute.”
“Although the institute did bring pieces of Chinese culture to campus, the warnings that the United States government has put out about these organizations over the years provides good reasons for the university to shut it down," Decatur said.
Attorney General Todd Rokita’s investigation, as previously reported by Campus Reform, is “aimed at identifying and getting to the bottom of the true intent of any relationships between Valparaiso University’s programming and the Chinese Communist Party.”
Exclusive documents obtained by Campus Reform show that the control that the Chinese Communist Party exerts on Confucius Institutes is often much more absolute than what was previously thought.
For example, the University of Toledo’s Agreement with the Chinese Government states that “The Institute must accept the assessment of [the government] on the teaching quality.” And Central Connecticut State University's agreement states that ““The University Institute shall review evaluations and recommendations made by the Confucius Institute Headquarters on the quality of the programs and make any necessary modifications.”
James Giordano, a senior fellow in Biosecurity, Technology and Ethics at the US Naval War College and a neurology professor at Georgetown University, previously told Campus Reform that this type of language clearly gives the Chinese Communist Party control of what’s taught in the Confucius Institutes hosted on American soil.
In addition to the risk it posed to VU’s federal funding, Padilla also stated that he chose to close down the University’s Confucius Institute due to a nationwide trend of schools cutting ties with the organization.
CIVU is the only Confucius institute left in the state of Indiana, and the CCP backed organizations have been disappearing from colleges across the country. However, several elite universities including Stanford, The University of California, Tufts University, and Emory University still boast Confucius Institutes, according to the National Association of Scholars. And, other CCP backed groups including the Chinese Students and Scholars Association have begun to emerge on campuses in recent years.
In relation to VU’s decision to close their institute, Rokita told Campus Reform that the university had finally done “the right thing.”
“Three weeks after I launched an investigation into Valparaiso University’s affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the University did the right thing by announcing it intends to finally end its relationship with its Confucius Institute. It’s also a positive development that the University has terminated its relationship with the CCP and has agreed that they will no longer receive funding to hire professors and staff through such affiliations. Our investigation into this operation, and possibly similar operations elsewhere, is not over.”
Rokita also emphasized the national security risk the institutes cause.
“The CCP is a national security threat and are trying to supplant us on the world stage by weakening our economy and stealing our intellectual property," he said. "The directors and faculty at these Confucius Institutes are handpicked by loyalists to the CCP, with the stated intention of spreading Chinese propaganda and whitewashing history.”
Rokita concluded, “Through these CCP-funded organizations, the CCP is using bribery and extortion to operate a massive PR campaign in the U.S. and around the world to clean up its image.”
VU Student Zach Collins told Campus Reform that he feels that closing CIVU is the “best option.”
“In terms of them closing the institute, I think that is the best option for Valpo University moving forward,” Collins stated. He continued, adding that the university’s actions seem “suspicious."
“They did mention that they aren’t closing it because of the investigation, which I do find to be odd...Valpo did say they are being open in the investigation as well, but this seems a little more suspicious than when the investigation itself began," Collins said.
The criticism of VU’s Confucius Institute has allegedly caused acts of anti-Asian hate to occur on the university’s campus. Rokita also addressed these concerns, telling Campus Reform, “any forms of bigotry, vandalism, or targeted attacks on members of the Asian-Pacific Island community have absolutely no place here in Indiana, or elsewhere.”
VU’s Confucius Institute will continue to operate until March.
Campus Reform reached out to VU for comment, and this article will be updated accordingly.