Sitting on the sidelines is good up to a certain point. But there comes a time when you can’t but act. AUB students did that today. And irrelevant me is proud of what they did.
I’m sick and tired of people constantly barraging anyone who goes to AUB and is complaining about tuition fees rising by saying: “you could always go to a cheaper university.”
How is their business what AUB students protest peacefully? When has everyone become so apathetic by default that they can’t but bring down people whose only goal was to be proactive in their own campus, against an administration that has become so corrupt with bureaucracy and is trying to remain afloat on their backs?
When I was at AUB back in 2010, I paid about 10 million LL in tuition fees for my sciences program. My brother whose program classifies under arts (i.e. cheaper than sciences) pays 14 million LL for the same amount of credits. His tuition is set for another increase.
Today’s AUB students reminded me of the days when I was a student there and the entire student body shut the university down to protest upcoming tuition increases. People camped out in front of College Hall. My friends slept nights on end there. We ended up with results.
It’s not because these students just want to have a cause for the sake of having a cause. It’s not because those students are bored and want something to protest. It’s not because they are all rich people who don’t understand the struggles of other Lebanese who can’t go to AUB.
It’s for our parents’ sake that we protested back then and that those students are protesting today, because we know how hard it is to make ends meet in this country, because our parents don’t grow money on trees and because going to AUB doesn’t mean you’re the son or daughter of someone who lights their cigars with dollar bills.
It’s for future students who can afford AUB today that we protested back then and that these students are protesting today, so they can still get the education that they can get.
It’s because the increase in AUB tuition fees has rarely, if ever, been a matter in which the student body was involved. It has always been a matter where administrative figures with six figure salaries (in dollars) gather to discuss how their salaries would remain relatively unchanged if not increasing over the years while putting forth lame arguments of “research funding, retaining professors, lack of endowments.”
Education is not an entitlement. If you have the means to get the best education you can get, go for it. But accepting the fact that the best education you can get is slipping out of your means due to corruption, plain and simple, is what those AUB students are not doing today by raising their voice, withstanding the barrage of people ridiculing them for doing what they’re doing in the process.
AUB’s administration is blaming the Lebanese situation and them wanting to maintain their level for wanting to take tuitions on another rise. But isn’t the Lebanese situation also affecting the parents who are required to pay those tuitions? Last time I checked, the situation was general not selective. And is maintaing a level not contingent upon excellent and remarkable students who are forcibly being pushed out?
As an alumnus, AUB’s current students made me proud. The pictures of them protesting made me happy. Seeing their numbers and those signs made me smile. They can’t change the situation in the country. They can’t fix politics. They can’t ameliorate the economy. But protesting and hopefully stopping arbitrary changes in their university is something they can do. Getting news of X dropping out because they couldn’t afford their education from becoming current is what they’re trying to do. Good for them. Stop bringing them down.
The following are pictures from the protest that I got off twitter. Kudos on the slogans: