AUB’s “Insight Club” Promotes Homophobia, Wants An Islamic Curriculum & Warns Men From Being Touched By Women

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Earlier this week, AUB’s Islamist club which called itself “Insight”, but it ironically lacks any, was supposed to hold an event to discuss homosexuality featuring two Islamist speakers who advocate, in 2017, for electrical conversion therapy as a possible way to “cure” homosexuality, among other things.

The American University of Beirut should have known better not to let a club foster borderline hate-speech, rooted in all the non-science possible, from two “scientists” going against everything that acknowledged scientific facts stand for. But I’ve learned not to hope for much from a university who’s more worried about its bottom line, than the protection of minorities in its campus and preventing the perpetuation of horrifying dogma that has no place inside its campus.

The outcry was deafening, leading to the club to cancel the event under the guise of them “receiving threats.” Yeah, right.

Except AUB’s Insight Club didn’t stop there, releasing a video earlier this week as well that wants men not to be “ashamed” of telling their female friends not to touch them. Because, clearly, the problem in our societies is that men are being touched by women without their consent. I mean, it’s common knowledge that those women force themselves on men all the time, isn’t it Insight club? So much Insight, I can’t even.

The video, 40 seconds long, features a boy named Karim who has been best friends with Reem since their first day at AUB, except Reem – THAT SLUT – has become so comfortable around Karim that – THE SCANDAL – she’s used to holding his hand sometimes.

But Karim – THE SAINT – knows that he should stop this. Keep in mind, Karim is “open mind.” He wears a NYC shirt. I mean, has Karim ever been in NYC? One wonders. I would bet he hasn’t, because his brain would have been fried by the amount of SIN – Allah have mercy – that is present in that city. I mean, gay people can hold hands. Straight people can hold hands. Transgender people can hold hands. Women can even legally walk the street without a shirt or a bra.

Anyway, Karim is conflicted. He wants to tell Reem that he doesn’t want her to touch him anymore, but she’s the problem. Every time he takes away his hand, she forces herself on him. What a problematic woman. And then when he thinks about talking to her about it, Karim decides to go all Lebanese ghetto with his “man” and “bro.”

This is the video:

It wasn’t even the only video they’ve had. In another one, they are criticizing the curriculum of the university as being critical of their religion. This time, it’s Toufic who does all the wondering:

It’s AUB’s Islamist club’s right to exercise their free speech. But it comes at a point where one wonders: if you’re this annoyed by secularism and progressive values (with a slight tear being shed at progressive designating a man and a woman interacting), then why the hell are you a student at the American University of Beirut, an institution that is as far away from being a religious institution as it goes – the Bible verse on its main gate and its Christian history aside?

If you want Islamic values to be taught in the classroom, go to one of Lebanon’s Islamic universities and indulge yourself. If you want extreme Islam to be your way of life, then I’m sorry to inform you that you chose the wrong university, bro.

The above video is spreading a radical agenda. It’s not even how most Lebanese Muslims go about their lives, as they tend to be on the more moderate side of the spectrum. The problem here is that the American University of Beirut, fresh from its $700,000 settlement with the U.S. government,  has its name affixed to such a video, spreading such a message, and to a club who’s doing its best to decimate all the values that AUB stands for.

Should AUB close them down? That would be a limitation of their freedom of speech, even if their speech is worthy of being propagated as the insight-lacking Insight club is offering nothing new, apart from being backward, ridiculous, and radical.

Since when are openly religious clubs, spreading radical religious agenda allowed at the American University of Beirut? What’s next, having a club call itself Crusaders take place in the university calling for it to go back to its Protestant past?

AUB, if you keep allowing such clubs to fester on your premises, you risk your entire secular reputation that you’ve worked years on trying to maintain. It’s horrifying that a time when clubs such as AUB’s secular club give hope in what this country could be one day, the university allows this to happen.

I guess the most appropriate response is:

AUB Professor Discovers New Chemical Reaction

As a rule of thumb, we feel proud when such discoveries happen at local institutions because we can relate to them somehow.

Today, I feel even prouder because the man that discovered this reaction was my professor at AUB.

Makhlouf Haddadin, a Jordanian professor, has discovered a new reaction which he called the Davis-Beirut reaction, after ten years of testing during which he didn’t come out on Lebanese TV shows to discuss his science, to boost himself among the Lebanese populace, to get some free advertising, etc.

This isn’t his first discovery as well. Prior to Lebanon’s civil war, Dr. Haddadin discovered a reaction which he called the Beirut reaction and which has caused AUB’s Chemistry department to get a huge boost ever since.

According to Dr. Haddadin, his new reaction might serve as a breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that mostly manifests in the lungs. You’d probably recognize it as the disease that killed French singer Gregory LeMarchal. It currently has no cure.

My most memorable memory with Dr. Haddadin wasn’t the organic chemistry course I took with him during my Sophomore year. It was when I went to his class on May 7th, 2008 and we were almost 10 people and he gave us a talk about the merits of the country we were in.

He told us that what was happening outside the fences of our campus was reminiscent of things that took place around the civil war in Lebanon. He told us about student uprisings, about how democracy doesn’t work by canceling other opinions, how democracy doesn’t work via violence.

He also told us how lucky we were to be Lebanese, how lucky we were to come from a country where scientific discoveries weren’t stifled by a state that was worried about what such discoveries might entail, how fortunate he was to be working in this country where he felt he could give his all without having a big brother eye overlooking his every experiment, how grateful he was for Beirut to have welcomed him so warmly. He told us that was why he named the reaction he discovered back then after the city that he loved.

He then begged us not to waste our country away because we didn’t know the value of what we had, given the region in which we lived.

Between 2008 and 2013, I daresay we as Lebanese have probably failed Dr. Haddadin. But this man is still grateful to Beirut nonetheless.

AUB Returns to Lebanon

A couple of days ago, I blogged about a mistake on an American research symposium that listed the Lebanese university AUB as located in Israel.

Following the publication of that post, it got picked up by various news outlets, such as L’Orient Le Jour, Annahar, Kataeb and New TV who shed light on the matter as well.

Today, I checked the program of the symposium and it seems the mistake has been corrected: AUB is listed as in Lebanon.

AUB, Lebanon

I was told that such mistakes aren’t always a bad thing as they help shed light on the research they are part in. I personally believe, however, that research should be able to stand on its own merits and not employ such gimmicks in order to turn ears.

We’ll never know the details of how such a mistake remained in the program till a week before the symposium started. But I guess what matters is the bottom line: getting it fixed. Good luck to those who are presenting the research and I hope they do a good job.

AUB Tuition Fees: Where Do You Go Now?

I attended AUB from 2007 till 2010. Back in my days, which were not that long ago, we used to pay for 12 credits only even though we were able to register a maximum of 17 per semester.

I thought the system as it stood back then was great – it allowed me to be a full-time student and graduate on time without overburdening my parents with paying for every single credit that I was forced to take in order to count for the 90 required to get that coveted diploma. In 2010, however, AUB decided they were going to enforce new regulations that would raise the 12 credit standard to 15 for those enrolling in the upcoming semester.

I was graduating that year so it didn’t affect me. But I couldn’t disassociate myself from the notion that those who would come after me would be victims of these regulations that were not only unfounded at the time, but were also supported by baseless arguments that are still being used today. So as part of the AUB student body back then, we had a mass protest across campus. We boycotted classes. We paralyzed the university. We all participated. Then those heading the movement blew it by letting politics seep into it and the movement soon crumbled due to the too many heads that wanted to become leaders and instead of abolishing the tuition fees regulations, we simply postponed them. And they called it a victory – the students who slept on the floor outside College Hall for nights, however, did not. And those generations for whom we protested back then are receiving the short end of the stick we knew they would today.

Ever since I graduated, tuition fees at AUB have increased by 37%, at about $5000 per academic year. The increase includes another 6% hike this year. Technology fees for internet and connectivity on campus have also gone up by 50%. Wasn’t internet supposed to be getting cheaper in this country?

AUB is proud of its financial aid situation. Most applicants receive financial aid, they say. Bu there’s a huge difference between receiving aid in principle and the amount of aid a student gets: a 10% financial aid counts towards the former statistics. But is 10% enough?

AUB personnel who are handling these tuition increases justify them as due to the “increasingly bad economic situation in the country which necessitated such increases in order to keep AUB functional.”

The economic situation is touching everyone. I know of families who are well-off whose situation has deteriorated so rapidly lately that they’ve decided to simply leave. We have no government. Unemployment is reportedly at 42%.  Isn’t this also affecting the parents of the students who are supposed to pay those fees? Is it plausible to have American-type fees in a country where the average income doesn’t come close to the American average?

I guess this is what comes when student elections are more about politics and which political side wins than about those who actually work. As long as this party or that gets a majority at the Student Representatives Council and the USFC later on, everything is okay. There are no issues to raise, I suppose. Where is that free printing again?

It’s easy to dismiss all of this as simply “if you can’t afford AUB, then don’t consider it.” And for the majority of Lebanese people, this is the case. We’d also be delusional to believe that the students attending AUB are people who cannot afford it. But is that also enough reason to simply not talk about the issue and let such tuition prices rise go unchallenged, excluding the portions of Lebanese society that could have, at one point, afforded giving their children the best education that Lebanon could provide?

As an alumnus, there’s not really much I can do. But how about AUB students who are now nagging about these increases actually ask themselves, come November, when they’re voting: AUB tuition fees, where do you go now? Perhaps then they can form a student body that can create a road map to let people know which class of Lebanese gets access to Green Oval and that ugly Zaha Hadid building. 


Disfiguring AUB with Zaha Hadid’s Building

Zaha Hadid AUB

Towards the end of my AUB days, someone decided to close down the area that held an infirmary in order for some new construction to take place.

I am not unfamiliar with construction projects at AUB which filled my time when I was there: both the Olayan School of Business and the Hostler student center opened when I was a student. I’m no expert nor do I know anything about architecture but they never struck me as disembodied elements of AUB’s campus.

The building depicted in the above picture is what’s standing in place of the infirmary today. Is it hideous? You bet. Is it an atrocity? Definitely. Does it take away from the charm of AUB’s upper campus? Well, it is a concrete block with holes in it. Again, unprofessional opinion here.

Why is such an ugly building overshadowing Nicely Hall? Because it has Zaha Hadid affixed to it, the world’s most famous architect, who “won” the competition to build this. As if the pull of her name alone isn’t enough to sway the competition.

I have to ask – and it’s obviously too late now for such a question – but didn’t anyone from AUB’s administration get a tinge of nausea as they passed by this growing structure and saw it disfiguring the campus many of them call home? And isn’t the mere presence of such a building disrespectful to the architecture faculty at AUB which is more than capable of coming up with better and more campus-relevant buildings?

But I guess this is how things roll around the country: go with the flashiest, most expensive, most prominent names because that’s sure to be better. Issam Fares- no relation-, after whom this building is named, should probably sue them for libel.