By Nader Ramadan
The morning after a historical election in America, students at The American University in Cairo made history too, staging the first ever protest on the Kattameya campus aimed squarely at the university.
The sit-in outside the administration building attracted throngs of students, who came together to voice a litany of complaints about the new campus, from the cost of food to the low pay workers on campus receive.
President David Arnold has agreed to address protestors’ demands at a student forum next week.
“We’ll give a response to the demands on Monday,” Arnold said.
Organized by three AUC students, the rally was meant to collect concerns, and present them to university officials.
The protest’s organizers have a number of specific issues they already want the university to address.
The organizers want AUC’s contract with food consortium Delicious Inc. and all the university’s financial records to be made public, to be provided cheaper food alternatives, a guarantee that campus facilities will be finished by this spring a reimbursement of four weeks of tuition expenses, and a cap on tuition hikes.
“Last but not least, we demand an apology,” said Amira Gabr, one of the protestors.
It is the latest development of student activism against the school, which is still struggling to reach completion of its new campus, and facing big losses in its endowment reserves.
Some international students have been writing letters to their home schools, warning them from sending more students to AUC.
Others circulated a petition, detailing the poor conditions of hotels provided by the school to house students as they await the completion of campus dormitories
At the Wednesday protest, the crowd was punctuated at times with raucous chants.
“We want koshary!” the gathering repeated. “No more Delicious!” “Come down David!” and “Protest! Protest!” were also yelled out, while organizers collected signatures for a petition supporting their list of demands.
Many wore red armbands to show solidarity with the protest. Others wrote down their complaints about student housing on a bed sheet.
The students were supported by the Student Union. Arnold later met with SU representatives, and agreed to hold the student forum in Mansour Hall.
One university official braved the crowd to speak to protestors.
At times having to deal with students shouting to his face, Ashraf El-Fiqi, Vice President of Student Affairs, told protestors they could speak to Arnold at the forum.