Spain has pulled a fast one and taken politics to the arena of academic competition, refusing to let Israel's Ariel University Center - a university with both Israeli and Arab students - participate in Solar Decathlon 2010, after the Ariel U team already qualified for the finals. Spain is the host of the Solar Decathlon 2010 - the goal of which is to build the best solar house. According to one of this year's Solar Decathlon Europe's (the first year Europe is hosting it) official web site (click on Solar Decathlon Europe menu, then History),
The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from across the globe meet to design and build an energetically self-sufficient house that runs only on solar energy, is connected to a power grid, and incorporates technologies that maximize its energy efficiency.It is an academic competition, and it is wrong to exclude students that have worked hard and already qualified for the finals. I believe that it is contrary to academic freedom, detrimental to the spirit of open competition and most importantly, counterproductive to the goal of the Solar Decathlon - which is to find the best group of student scientists that can produce a solar house and provide a model for the world's clean energy future. That is why I am asking everyone reading this to sign the petition to Spain to have this decision to inject politics in academics reversed, and if they won't, ask the US Department of Energy to rescind its sponsorship of the event.
In the final phase of the competition, teams will assemble their prototypes in the so-called ‘Solar Village.’ The prototypes designed by the participating teams will then ‘compete’ in a set of ten contests (Decathlon) in order to demonstrate the self-sufficiency and energy efficiency of each house.