According to several GUC students contacted by The Caravan, at least 15 are confirmed to have been initially expelled on March 21 for holding a 'sleep-in' demonstration on campus to show the university's administration how serious they were about their demands.
More than 500 students joined a demonstration on March 22 to protest the expulsions and demand the students be allowed to return to campus. Several students from among those protesters may have also been temporarily suspended or expelled, according to student sources.
Mostafa Ahmed Eissa, a GUC communication major and one of the expelled students, told The Caravan he was concerned about students rights and their freedom of speech at private universities.
He said students have declared they will not end their protests until the expelled students are back.
Mohamed Osama, a GUC engineering student, believes that private universities should have student unions and said his father was in such an organization in the 1960s and 70s.
"After the [January 25] revolution, if we don't raise our voices now, we never will. This is our chance to get our rights. They are silencing our voices in a way that is unimaginable," Osama said.
Mohammed Ezz, a GUC student who was among eight chosen to be on a student union representative board, said administration had failed to live up to their promise to respond to their demands by Saturday.
GUC administration has not yet responded to The Caravan's interview requests. However, an email sent from GUC administration to explain developments on March 22 said: "A number of students participated in unacceptable actions that disrupted the administrative and academic progress of the university and were accordingly punished."
"As a result, GUC administration decided to suspend 15 students who were proven to have participated actively in the above-mentioned actions. The suspension will be in effect until the students' parents meet with the administration to discuss the unacceptable behavior of the students. The discussion will be exclusive between the parents and GUC President."
"Henceforward, the administration urges all students to abide by the rules and not cause any disturbance to the progression of the academic year."
An engineering teaching assistant, who wished to remain anonymous because he feared losing his job, said he initially did not support the students in the protests from the beginning but when he saw how students were treated, he decided to participate.
"Basically the message they [the administration] are sending is that this is their own university, a private university with their money, and whoever does not like it, they should leave," said the assistant.
There have been reports of letters sent to other assistants or staff who have been supporting the protests, threatening to terminate their contracts for "encouraging student misconduct," the assistant told The Caravan."Even the students who at first felt that the protesters may have gone too far with their demands, have joined protests after seeing how the students were treated," said the assistant.
Students and parents were particularly upset with the tone of an email sent by GUC administration on March 21 to explain the expulsions.
According to Ahram Online the email said: “...we would like to inform you that your son/daughter has violated the university’s values and norms and its general regulations by the way they have acted on campus, threatening their own safety, the university’s properties and the interest of other students. Your son/daughter has been suspended until you kindly visit our university to decide whether you would like him/her to continue his/her studies while respecting the university’s rules and regulations or be transferred to another university without having to bear the costs of the 2011 spring semester.
"The email was very disrespectful," said Mostafa Sheshtawy, a GUC student and blogger, adding that parents were expected to give apologies in order to have their children re-admitted to the university.
He also described the situation when students staged their 'sleep-in'.
He said campus facilities and buildings were closed and the students were left outside in the cold, unable to reach washrooms except for one meant for security guards.
"We have a student union but it does not have a chair and it does not have a voice within the board," he said.
Sheshtawy later reported on his blog that Slim Abdennadher, the acting Dean of the School of Engineering, met with students and said that expulsion was the wrong approach to resolving the issue.
Aynoor Tatanaki, an applied arts student, said that the administration set regulations to the formation of what it phrased as a "student council," but essentially prevented students from sitting in on higher management board meetings, and having access to the financial details and workings of the university.
"All we wanted was transparency. That is why we rejected this proposed council, and had a sit-in this week," Tatanaki said.