Students at the Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA) are being subjected to harsh actions by their administration two weeks into their university protest.
What started as a legitimate stand by the students on Oct. 18 to call for better education quality and a drafted constitution resulted into students being held hostage inside the university gates after work hours and accused of attacking security guards.
“Up till now, I have two cases filed against to the police by the administration,” said MSA SU President, Mohammed El Kholy.
“One is for destroying public property and the other one for attacking a security guard and causing him to get medical care for 21 days. For both incidents, they are claiming I was not on campus when it happened,” he added.
The latter is a felony to which a hearing in court has already been scheduled, and El Kholy is expected to be present and defend himself.
Yet, such an accusation was not the only hassle students had to face. Last week, students found themselves stuck on campus and not able leave after the university had locked the gates and no one was around to open them.
Students later resorted to breaking one of the doors to get out. Cases were also filed against these students for destroying property and are expected to show up in court on Dec. 4.
“Other things that happened was that security guards began making trouble out of nowhere with the students, to the extent that one of the security guards started cursing one of the students, which made the student hit him,” said El Kholy.
Reem Shetaway, head of public relations of MSA’s Student Union described the students’ situation during the strike.
“Last Thursday Oct. 20 was the first weekend of the strike, and some students decided they will stay on campus and continue the strike till Friday, but then they were surprised to find all the toilets locked, as well as the electricity on campus and water,” she says.
The students protesting called for the importance of offering a better education quality, which included implementing university policies and replacing part-timers with full-time faculty.
There have been talks with the university administration regarding the students’ demands.
Shetawy explains, “We had a meeting with the university vice president Dr. Sherief El Degwy. When the students went to meet him, he was performing surgery and they told him that they would send out a list of 10 students who would negotiate with him and set rules to the meeting so that things would be orderly.”
“The university has a set of policies that they don’t implement. For example, when a student is on probation and receives a D in a course, they have the right to repeat it, but of course that doesn’t happen,” said El Kholy.
“Another demand is that the university lately has been letting go of their full time professors and replacing them with part-timers whom are not as good and don’t have office hours. This is jeopardizing our education,” he added.
Other demands included forming a student senate, giving more authority to the student union, and writing a constitution.
“Our student union has been formed ten years ago, yet it does not have any power. When we wanted to do this protest, we were prohibited by the university to use flyers or posters in order to get the attention of the student body. Rather we were only able to rally students after talking with student leaders on campus,” said El Kholy.
Decreasing bus fees and increasing the scholarship provided to students were also on the list of demands.
Students from other universities supporting the student political movement across the country have been supporting the protests at MSA, yet when asked about the reaction of the Egyptian Student Union (ESU), El Kholy said that representatives were on campus, but there is no official reaction from the union.
ESU member and AUC SU member Mohammed Alaa stated that there would be a statement supporting the protest coming out in the next few days.
Shetawy added, “It’s a shame to find the university turn from an educational institute to one that is filing cases against its students on false claims. It’s a business and they are acting in a crazy way after feeling that their money source is being threatened.”
Other than approaching the media to portray their demands in the right way, students at the strike will start collecting petitions against the university’s administration to be submitted to the Council of Higher Education demanding support.