Category Archives: AUC Events

Barack Obama brings a new era in US politics, AUC professor says

By Safaa Ali

With Barack Obama’s election a new era in American politics is about to unfold, but he may be just a one-term president, said Patrick Mason, assistant professor of history at The American University in Cairo.

The next four years will be a chance to forge a real peace process between nations, Mason told an audience at Moataz Al Alfy Hall, during his lecture on “Analyzing Obama’s election and its impact on the Middle East.” 

“We have to get the most out of this,” said Mason, who is also acting director of the American studies center.

The professor called the recent elections the most significant in the history of the United States. “Finally the dream of Dr. Luther King came true,” he said. “The election gave hope for a whole generation.”

Obama is being guided by five priorities as he enters the Oval Office, Mason said-fixing the U.S., economy, finding alternative energy resources, health care reform, tax reform and education.

Obama is influenced by two political legacies, the Clinton administration and the Kennedy administration.

“Obama wants to use diplomacy instead of cowboy policies used by Bush,” he said.

Mason said that Obama is concerned of the Middle Eastern issues as well as fighting terrorism. He intends to pursue negotiations with other nations including Iran and Syria, and adopting new techniques in fighting terrorism like in Afghanistan, for instance, building schools and cities rather than killing people.

Above all, the President elect is committed to withdraw U.S troops from Iraq within 16 months. “He does not want to be involved in a new war,” said Mason.

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Playing with your veil is sexy

By Menna Taher

“How many of you flirted to get your way?” Anne Justus, an AUC psychology professor, asked a room-full of students. Hesitant looks exchanged about the room. “C’mon, I’m sure you flirted to get a better price or avoid standing in a cue before,” she pressed. Slowly hands were raised.

According to Justus, different cultures have different ways of flirting. Tossing the hair is a classic way of flirting and since in Egypt, many women are veiled, constant fiddling with the veil indicates flirtation.

“Flirting is harmless fun,” Justus said, during a lecture held by the Psychology Club on the art of flirting.

Justus is an assistant professor of psychology at AUC, and has introduced several hit classes, including the Psychology of Love.

Justus explained the purpose of flirtation varies. One wouldn’t approach a summer fling the way they would a potential partner, she said.

She introduced seven steps to the art of flirting. “Meet my boyfriend Bill,” Justus joked as former US President Bill Clinton appeared on her slide show. “Bill Clinton is one of the best flirts.”

The first rule of flirting is confidence; the way someone walks indicates their level of confidence. “By walking confidently you will actually feel confident,” she said.

Another important technique is zooming in, which involves concentrating on one person through a crowd. “Clinton was very good at that,” Justus commented.

Different smiles also give away signals; a pleasant smile makes you more attractive. “But don’t give out a creepy smile,” Justus said, explaining what a creepy smile is by baring her teeth.

Telling jokes, asking for favors, and giving compliments were all listed as ways of making the target of your flirtation feel good about themselves. “But they have to be true,” Justus said. “You can’t tell a short person that he’s the manliest and tallest guy you’ve ever met.”

Justus also pointed out ways of knowing if someone is flirting with you; a man lending a woman his jacket is a sure sign whilst women will show their wrists to increase the attention and show they’re interested back.

“That’s why when you see a couple holding hands in a restaurant the girl’s hand would be facing upward,” Justus said. The cowpoke stance is one to show that a man is interested. A man stands with his thumbs in his pockets and his fingers pointing at his genitals. “It’s subconscious of course.”

Students laughed and related the techniques to their own flirting ways.

“Flirting makes you feel better,” said Nada El Araby, a psychology major. “The lecture was a lot of fun.”

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Model United Nations attracts less because of AUC move

By Menna Taher

Despite its popularity among student organizations, the Model United Nations is having difficulty in recruiting members for its spring conference.  

Though the last day to sign up for MUN is on Thursday, conference secretariats say recruitment has been lower than in previous semesters. 

“Until now, there are 267 applicants,” said Sally Sabbahy, a secretariat in The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “We barely meet the minimum, which is usually 600 applicants.” 

MUN has seven different councils; The European Union-African Union Summit, The Human Rights Council, The International Court of Justice, The Peace Building Commission, The Security Council, The United National Office on Drugs and Crime and The World Economic Forum.  

“Each of the councils recruits at least 50 people,” Sabbahy said. “We also have to take into consideration that many of the participants will drop out in the first weeks. That’s why we recruit many people.” 

The schedule is pre-arranged and is connected, so any delay would affect the planned dates for the conference. 

“It would be ridiculous to hold a conference with this amount of people,” Sabbahy said. “We can’t have a Security Council of nine countries.” 

However, Kismet El Husseiny, MUN Secretary General, believes that there’s always a drop in the applicants at a certain phase during the semester. “It’s not uncommon,” he said. “People start to flood in during the last 10 days of recruitment.”  

Secretariats and the Organizing Committee prepare for the event a year in advance and put a lot of effort in holding a conference.  

“We have to prepare a background paper, which has the main topics we’re intending to discuss and we also attend trainings to practice communication and presentation skills by former Secretariats,” said Hend El Zawahry, a secretariat in The Security Council.  

“We work for eight months,” said Sara Negm, the head of the OC. “But those participating know they will work beforehand. However, the load of work decreases at the peak of exams.”  

Negm said that two committees were established this semester. The Environmental Program and the Awareness Program, which held the Peace For One Day campaign. 

MUN members said The American University in Cairo’s move had a significant impact on the club.  Due to the distance of the campus, applicants from Cairo and Ain Shams Universities decreased from previous years.  

According to Shireen Wissa, a member of the External Public Relations Committee, said another reason for the decrease was that Cairo University and Misr International University have their own MUN now and professors are not as lenient with giving out absence and exams excuses as before.  

Arranging buses on Saturday to attend sessions also poses a budget problem.

“AUC has offered to compensate for the costs of the buses for the Junior CIMUN, [which was held in October],” El Husseiny said. “But we still didn’t receive anything”  

CIMUN members are trying to get around limitations on sponsorship, which have changed since recent years due to a contract signed between The American University in Cairo and Delicious Inc., the food consortium currently running campus outlets.

“Instead of getting the sponsor on campus, we take their products and sell them ourselves. We got tickets for the Arabs Gone Wild comedy show and had the fundraising committee sell them,” El Husseiny said.

Nevertheless, some active participants still sign up despite transportation hardships.  

Sharmake Mohamed is a Somali student and an active participant in MUN conferences.  

“I come from a country that has witnessed a two-decade civil war,” Mohamed said. “I want to learn more about foreign policies to help out my country.” 

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Last day to catch film festival

By Sara Khalil

If you haven’t been by yet, this evening is the last viewing of films at The Margaret Mead Traveling Film and Video Festival in the Core Center.

Tonight’s three films deal with the issue of diminishing water resources in America and in India.  The filming begins at 5:30 p.m.

Coordinated by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the film festival goes around the world to showcase cultural documentaries.

A number of weighty issues have been explored in this year’s festival already, including terrorism.

One film is “Promised Paradise,” produced by Leonard Helmrich. It presents Jakarta-based puppeteer Agus Nur Amal, as he explores the story behind the bombing of a Balinese nightclub in October 2002.

Among the people he visits in his search for the reasons behind the attacks is Imam Samudra, notorious for his connections to terrorism.

“Did you know that the Tsunami would strike before this happens?” Amal asks, and Imam Samudra replies, “Yes, the Qur’an tells us about all things that happened and will happen, it is all mentioned in the Qur’an.”

Samudra explains his religious convictions tell him to kill the guilty and avoid innocents, and that is what he was trying to do.

“When we wanted to bomb that nightclub we watched it for days to know when which people are there, to avoid killing innocents,” he says.

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Debating sexual harassment in Egypt

By Nourhan Elsebahy

Sexual harassment is on the rise in Egypt, and even an increase in women wearing the veil has not prevented its spread, said experts during a debate at The American University in Cairo.

“There is a disturbance in our social structure where values are diminishing,” said Samir Naim, a sociology professor from Ein Shams University.

The debate was held in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, about who bears responsibility for the increase in harassment incidents.

Professor Mona Makram-Ebeid, distinguished lecturer at HUSS, said a number of recent incidents suggest veils don’t reduce, but actually spur harassment.

 Women may think they are protected because they wear the veil, but the more women appear veiled, the less men learn to be decent civilized members of society, Ebeid argued.

There are also few protections in Egyptian law for women, she added.

“On the articles 268 and 306, a specific legal wording against harassment exists nowhere,” Ebeid said.

As a result, women are afraid to report harassment when it happens, she said.

Nihad Aboul Komsan, attorney and chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, said her organization did a local survey on harassment, and found a majority of Egyptians blamed women for incidents.

The survey found young women are not the only targets of harassment in Egypt, that there are many cases involving girls under 18 and women over 40, Nihad said.

The number of complaints her organization receives are overwhelming, she said.

“Sexual harassment is taking place on the rush hour train at 2 pm and even on the early morning train, and on the crowded streets,” Komsan said. “Sexual harassment is prevailing anywhere at anytime, not unlike any time before.”

Komsan said her organization is engaged in outreach efforts with the public and the media.

There are number of reasons for the increase in harassment of women, Naim said, including unemployment and the difficulty many face in getting married.

“It is like the symptoms of a disease,” Naim said.

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AUC declared best business program in Egypt

By Caravan staff

The Management Department in The American University in Cairo’s school of Business, Economics and Communications has been ranked among the best 1,000 business schools in the world by a French consulting firm.

AUC was recognized by Eduniversal, an higher education consulting firm for businesses and institutions, during its November convention in Paris. 

The firm made its decisions following a study of over 4,000 institutions, according to a company release.

Eduniversal placed AUC among the top 100 business schools in its rankings, which were defined as “programs with major international influence.” 

The firm bestowed AUC with having “best business program in Egypt.” It also ranked AUC among the top three business schools in Africa, also including the South African schools, the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch.

Attending the convention was BEC Dean Dennis O’Connor, who met with heads of business schools around the world. Many expressed an interest in working with AUC, he said.

“I was very impressed by the work that these new schools and programs are doing with recruiting students and developing curricula,” O’Connor said.  “It reemphasizes the idea that there is a fierce competition among business schools and continuous improvement.”

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Angry students get apology from AUC President

By Nader Ramadan and Nourhan Elsebahy

The head of The American University in Cairo apologized to attendees at a raucous and at times angry student forum today meant to address concerns about the new campus, which continued even as a blackout hit the university.

Flanked by two armed bodyguards, President David Arnold asked for the audience’s understanding and forgiveness for the problems the university has experienced this semester.

“I want to express my deep personal apology about the problems and suffering that we have encountered at the past two months,” he said.

The forum was hastily organized in response to a sit-in held by dozens of student protesters last week outside the administration building.

The group organizing the protest asked the school provide the details of its contract with food consortium Delicious Inc. and publicize all of its financial records, provide cheaper food alternatives, guarantee the campus is finished by spring, a reimbursement of four weeks of tuition, and a cap on tuition hikes.

During his address at the Motaz El Alfy Hall in the newly opened section of campus, Arnold acknowledged student frustration with the problems AUC has experienced in the move to Kattameya.

Arnold defended the move as the “right decision,” though he was immediately heckled for the comment.

He did not give a definitive answer about when the campus would be fully completed, but said he expected student housing would be ready for tenants at the end of the semester. An updated construction schedule is expected next week, AUC said in a statement.

To address student concerns about food on campus, the university has created a Food Services Committee, and will provide a summary of its agreement with Delicious Inc, the university said.

At the forum, Arnold announced that students would also receive a food coupon worth 200 LE.

He also agreed with the concerns that staff and students have raised about the bus service provided by Family Transport. Drivers for the Heliopolis-based firm have been in at least two accidents since the beginning of the semester.

Bus service was not that good for the first two weeks of this semester, as many problems were taking place, such as the bus was sometimes full or it wasn’t on time,” Arnold said.

The bus services rebate will be worth 500 LE to each student, a third of the value of the bus pass.

But he said he was not entertaining a tuition refund of any kind. In its release, the university stated tuition covers 70 percent of education costs, the remainder covered by donations and AUC’s endowment funds.

We have made a commitment towards offering higher education programs for you, so a reduction of tuition is unnecessary,” Arnold said.

In previous remarks to the Caravan, university officials said AUC has suffered a decline of almost $100 million in the market value of its securities investments, which were largely made with endowment funds. 

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