By Zeina Tawakol
The American University in Cairo is racing to complete its campus housing facilities before its contract ends in November with the hotels currently housing students.
“We hope that the dorms are finished before November or else we have to place the students in different places,” said Samah El Minawi, assistant manager of student housing.
Right now, more than 400 students are living at three hotels owned by the Egyptian army in Heliopolis and Nasr City. After signing up for campus housing, they were told in July that construction delays would prevent them from moving in until November 1.
Construction work continues daily on the student residences. A Caravan reporter entered the building and found that interiors were incomplete, missing fittings and in some cases, entire structures.
University officials, though, insisted the residences would be complete this month.
“Our target for the student housing is to have that ready by the second to third week in October,” said Paul Donoghue, vice president for planning and administration.
“We need then to take over so that we can furnish it and get it all clean and ready for students to actually move in before the end of October,” he said.
Students are currently staying at Dar El Handasseya (Hotel of the Engineering Division), Dar El Moshah (Hotel of the Infantry Division) and Dar Al Imdad Wal Tamween (Hotel of the Logistics and Supplies Division).
Officials with the Residential Life Office said the army hotels were the best option in terms of security and costs.
“It was not cheap at all,” said Fatma Youssef, associate dean for residential life, referring to the costs of booking these hotels. “And due to the delay, the university deducted 25 percent from the housing fees, which made it [more costly].”
However, the office refused to provide an exact figure of these costs to the university.
The hotels are supplied with study halls and internet service, as well as a bus service available to take students to and from campus, and to Zamalek and City Stars mall in Heliopolis in the evenings, El Minawi said.
Yet many students remain unsatisfied.
“I am staying in the Logistics hotel.” said Osama Mannaa, a mechanical engineering senior. “The hotel is fine for living, but not for students. There are no desks and no internet in the rooms.”
The housing office tried to supply the students with all the possible necessities, Youssef said, “It’s just very hard to make every one happy.”
Donoghue said the university was doing its best to complete the housing facilities on deadline.
“Everyone involved is working very hard to make sure that we’ve got those dormitories ready,” he said.