Forum addresses security risks to AUC community

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

AUC administrators at a panel forum addressing safety concerns last week said they were working closely with the Egyptian military to ensure the security of the areas around the New Cairo campus.

In previous days, the military has been inspecting cars along Road 90 which leads to and runs adjacent to the university.

The forum comes amid increased concerns and reports of attempted assaults on members of the community.

On March 9, economics major Kamal El Laithy escaped his captors – one of whom was his driver - after a 12-hour kidnapping ordeal. In the same week, reports surfaced of an assault on a female student as she walked to her car parked outside Gate 1.

Some students attending the forum questioned whether security guards are able to secure students on campus and on their way to and from campus.


AUC administrators and student representatives discussed possible security threats and measures, Photo by Peter Wissa

The issue of travel to and from campus had been a consideration when senior administrators were deciding when to resume classes in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution.

“There will be security guards on buses, it is burden on us because there are 200 trips a day but we’ll do it,” AUC President Lisa Anderson said.

However, it was not clear whether the security guards are equipped and trained enough to handle risk situations. Ashraf Kamal El Azab, head of the Security Office, responded by saying, “security guards are equipped with torch lights but no other weapons and we’re trying to train them to have some skills to deal with these situations.”

When a student pointed out that the AUC official website states that the university doesn’t assume security for cars and any personal injury, the panel explained that the offered security is for students when going to their cars and not for the vehicles themselves.

Anderson pointed out that the request for making parking passes for free is not feasible. She explained that security is a service the university offers to students who park their cars on campus, whereas the university cannot secure all the territory of New Cairo.

Meanwhile, some students objected to the alleged presence on campus of former members of the now defunct State Security apparatus.

When one student decried their presence as “a shame for AUC,” Anderson said that the presence of State Security members contravenes AUC policy and that she is intending to work on this issue very soon.

A number of students submitted an online petition for some security concerns including the request of returning to Ramadan schedule. Vice-President for Student Affairs Ashraf El Fiqi shot down that idea, saying it is not the most efficient way to handle the problem.

“We will have to make up for the lost time using the summer vacation or Saturdays, so this doesn’t resolve the problem.”

The panel suggested some general safety precautions such as car pooling, moving in groups and respecting the curfew restrictions.

Students are encouraged to report any safety threats to the Student Judicial Board, the Student Senate, the Student Union and the Security Office.

Meanwhile, a freshman student narrowly avoided being attacked while filling his car with gas at a station near the New Cairo campus Thursday morning, according to an email sent by his family.

The freshman, who has asked not to be identified for reasons of personal security, was sitting in his car when he was approached by a man selling mangoes who tried to talk him into buying.

The AUCian said he was not interested. At which point the mango vendor tried to open the locked driver door.

Two more men suddenly appeared and came toward the car; one carrying a screw driver.

Terrified that he was in imminent danger, the freshman hit the gas pedal and drove off, brushing against one of his would-be assailants.

His family has since sent an email to university administrators inquiring about AUC safety’s measures and security in the area.