CAIRO: University students against “arbitrary suspension” held a press conference Monday hosted in support of suspended British University in Egypt (BUE) college students at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), an NGO defending human rights.
The event was announced on a Facebook page under the slogan “BUE students’ ‘intifada’ (uprising),” with a small statement on the reasons for the conference reading: “When 32 students have either been expelled or suspended for a specific time period, including the head of the Students’ Union, it becomes our concern and conviction that the university does not work for the wellbeing of students, and intentionally acts in ways that would ruin their future.”
In response, the BUE published a half-page press release Monday in several local newspapers stating the university’s reasons for suspending some of the students and claiming it was mainly over non-peaceful protests organized at the university.
“We refuse that the university’s suspension decision be referred to as ‘arbitrary’ and we confirm that the total number of students expelled is 13, not 32 as some news reported,” the statement read. However, at the beginning of the same statement, BUE stated the number of suspended students as 11.
The rest of the statement accounted for the incidents behind the issue, saying they started on Sept. 25 and Sept. 28 when two students planned and executed protests at the university. As a result, one student was expelled and four others were suspended for one semester on Oct. 2. Students were referred to a disciplinary council and have taken their cases to court to stop the university’s decision.
Then, on Oct. 19, another group of eight students organized another protest and were suspended for a semester. They were referred to the disciplinary council and their parents signed a commitment form that they agreed if violated would lead to the students’ expulsion, BUE continued.
“It would have better served the students to express their objection through the judiciary system, instead of planning to destroy their university under the pretext of democracy,” BUE stated.
The students were demonstrating against a recently adopted list of regulations by the university organizing students’ representative unions and elections, which the students did not agree with.
The university believed the old student union was committing financial violations and decided to reorganize the election system by having a delegation of elected representatives from each faculty, from which members were to join the union.
Monday’s press release was a clarification of an earlier statement on Oct. 11 that stated that BUE expelled a “number of students who incited to chaos and violence, after refusing to resolve to communication.”
However, students on social media said the row began when the university asked students to establish a list of rules and regulations for the students’ union, and students were then surprised to find at the beginning of the new academic year a different list had been adopted.
Students said that when they demanded their right to discussion, the university suspended them. The court has yet to issue a decision regarding their suspension.
On a similar note, Al-Azhar University announced Monday the university signed a decision to suspend 22 students for involvement in violent protests, Ahmed Hosny, vice president of the Al-Azhar Women’s Faculty, told Youm7. This coincided with the arrest of nine female students by the private Falcon security group for the students allegedly carrying fireworks inside the university.
Additional reporting by Nada Selim.