By Bassem El Sanadi
Students and professors, having witnessed the unfinished state of the American University in Cairo’s new campus, have been asking the same question: Why the rush to move?
Opinions were formed during the first weeks, as students and professors got lost, and had little clue about where they could print paper, get their bus passes, or register into classes.
On more than one occasion, students and faculty found their classes were abandoned, some of them without desks, chairs, electricity and air conditioning.
“I think they had to move us now, to follow contracts of selling the Falaki and Greek campus at the agreed dates,” said Bassem Samir, an engineering sophomore.
Shems Friedlander, a professor of journalism and mass communication, was forced to postpone his classes until after Ramadan because his subject requires technology that is currently unavailable in neither the Kattameya nor the downtown campus.
“The move was originally scheduled a year ago and was postponed, and the administration felt it’s necessary to move now and force the completion of unfinished interiors by contractors,” Friedlander said.
Economics student Maged Shereen was among many who claimed the reason for the move had to do with AUC President David Arnold.
“I heard that the president is leaving soon and wanted to get the move over with,” he said.
The rumor was posed to Arnold, who was asked about it during a forum on Monday to detail the progress of construction work on campus.
“Yes, this was a David Arnold decision, I accept all the pain and suffering as my responsibility,” he said. “But I’m not going to run out.”
“I’m not leaving, I’m not planning to leave,” he said. “I’m here to work together on this, as long as it takes.”
Provost Lisa Anderson said the decision to move this semester was agreed last April, when the university expected work would be completed by the first of June. Soon after, she said, the deadline was then extended to July 1, and for a third time to September 1.
“If we hadn’t moved now we would have waited till next year because we can’t move during the semester and the break is too short, we need at least 60 days,” she said.
“For now, no further promises are being made to faculty, but I am completely confident it will be over at the end of this semester.”