The administration filed cases against six AUC students early last week at the beginning of a week-long strike on charges of “vandalism to university rules and property.”
Students began gathering supporters for their strike by blocking lanes from Gate 4 leading into the university and by allowing students to park their cars inside without paying the 10 L.E. parking fee.
The university responded by issuing cases to six students including the Student Union President and his Vice President.
“There is anger inside the students, but it’s not clear where it’s coming from,” said Ashraf el Fiqi, Vice President to Student Affairs.
Vice President of the Student Union Ahmed Ezzat stated, “This isn’t about the SU; it is about a bigger student movement, and everyone in the SU is supporting it.”
He mentioned that the SU tried, as student representatives, to discuss the tuition issue with President Anderson, but she disregarded their requests and told them the university is going through a “budget deficit.”
She ended the discussion by reportedly saying, “If the students want to strike, let them strike, but tell them it is only a waste of time.”
Students have recently been wondering about the allocation of the university’s budget, its distribution and the deficit the university is facing, and the rate of increasing tuitions every year.
“Students deserve to have a stated amount of tuition without having this disproportionate increase,” said Dr. Zeinab Abul Magd, a visiting professor at the history department.
“And while the workers at AUC might be getting a little more than workers (elsewhere), this is still a private institution that is actually giving them nickels and pennies,” she added, explaining that faculty, students, and workers alike care for the welfare and progress of the university.
On the other hand, the administration claim it has been is facing a financial crisis since the move to the new campus in 2008.
“AUC education is expensive. The tuition only covers 60% of the cost of education, and other sources make up the 40%. The students didn’t pay for the costs of building the new campus. It was considered totally separate,” said Ashraf El Fiqi.
The academic year of 2010/2011 was considered a gap year as many freshmen did not enter university at that time. Additionally, many international students left due to the Egyptian uprisings happening at that time.
“The number of students decreased by 40% and the budget was lowered and we managed to fix it,” said El Fiqi.
“The students don’t understand that there is no one person profiting from their fees. This is a non-profit organization and everything is spent on the university. There is a huge misconception that one person is getting all the money,” he elaborates.
He insisted that lowering the tuition fees will in turn lower the quality of services available at AUC, which are unique to those available at any other university in Egypt.
El Fiqi also insists that the finances of the university are for public inspection, and that the budget is made available when students ask for it.
When The Independent tried to meet with one of the professors in a committee that was specifically formed to inspect the budget yearly, he refused to answer our questions saying that he signed a confidentiality agreement.
Despite El Fiqi’s claims, students have witnessed a decrease in the quality of both educational services and consumer ones alike.
“The bus services have been getting worse and more expensive every year. The food expenses are still an issue, and we can’t keep accepting the tactics that the administration uses to shut the student body up, said Tamer Sergany, a business senior and one of the students on strike.
He mentioned that conditions have changed since he first entered AUC, and as a graduating senior, he feels bad for those students that still have two or three years left and he advises them to “take a stand for their rights.”
Many professors suspended classes throughout the week in solidarity with the strike.
“I let my students go to support the protestors. This is a new culture that we are seeing inside universities in Egypt and AUC has led the way. I very much hope that this culture will be transported to other campuses,” said Abul Magd.
After the events on Thursday, students and workers remain in protest until their demands are met, while studying ideas for further escalation according to a press release circulated on Thursday night.
GEHAD ABAZA AND MENNAT YOUSSEF
Staff Reporter/ News Editor