Egypt's AUC suspends classes amid ongoing students' strike

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Sep 2012

Closure of campus gates by students protesting tuition fee hikes prompts university administrators to suspend classes, hire private security guards

Students standing outside one of the gates of AUC after the gates chained by protesting students on (Photo: Hossam Abdel-Gelil)

 The administration of the American University in Cairo (AUC) announced the suspension of all classes on Sunday, until further notice, due to an ongoing strike by students protesting recent tuition fee hikes, who have expressed their opposition to the fee increases by sealing the university campus gates.

"After exhausting all alternatives with the students insisting on closing the gates, the American University in Cairo is suspending operations, including all classes, because of the danger posed by the continuing closure of the campus," read an e-mail sent out on Sunday by university administrators.

Ahmed Ezzat, a final-year student at AUC, told Ahram Online that he had found the e-mail from university administrators "very provocative."

"They began their e-mail by claiming that they had 'tried all alternatives.' What does that mean?" Ezzat asked. "Their 'alternatives' were bulldozers and thugs. If these are their alternatives, then I don’t consider them an administration."

On Sunday, as the students' strike – which first began last Wednesday – continued, eyewitnesses reported that a bulldozer had been sent to knock down a barbed-wire fence to allow students to access the campus.

The university has also reportedly hired private bodyguards to assist university security after campus gates were removed by student protesters. Ezzat told Ahram Online that one of these bodyguards had threatened a member of the AUC Parents Association.

"Whoever brought in thugs and jeopardized university security should be dismissed," Ezzat asserted.

He went on to say that ongoing negotiations with the university administration had so far led nowhere.

"At a Saturday meeting, Fouad El-Sayes, AUC vice-president for financial affairs, bluntly told us that, whatever we do, the 7 per cent tuition fee hike was here to stay," Ezzat said.

Shortly before the outset of the current academic year, AUC announced a 7 per cent increase in university tuition fees.

An emergency meeting has been scheduled for Monday in hopes of resolving the issue. The meeting is expected to include members of the AUC Parents Association, the university's board of trustees, the Student Union and the administration.

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