JBEIL. Lebanon: Students at the Lebanese American University’s Jbeil campus Tuesday joined the protest against tuition hikes, a day after a rally at its main campus in Beirut was marred by controversy. Several hundred student activists marched up and down the Jbeil campus shouting slogans such as “We can’t pay!” and “LAU, listen to us!” in response to the school’s decision to raise tuition by as much as 15 percent this semester. The hikes are staggered according to degree type and major.
At Tuesday’s protest in Beirut, four students were referred to the school’s disciplinary body for allegedly disrupting classes after they entered classrooms and asked their fellow students to join the demonstration. The body is expected to convene next week to determine the fate of the four students, one of which is the acting student body president.
Protesters at the Jbeil campus echoed the demands of their Beirut counterparts, insisting on increased transparency from the administration and a chance to participate in any major decisions concerning tuition. They also asked that the tuition increase should not apply to students currently enrolled.
The protest attracted a broad spectrum of political and interest-based student groups, from the local Kataeb Party student branch to the astronomy club.
Leading the protests was Elsa Saadeh, a member of the International Affairs club. “We want to sit with the administration and find a compromise,” she told The Daily Star, adding that they had been promised a meeting with the president Wednesday.
As the school day wound to a close, the protest calmed down and dispersed. Despite the anti-climactic ending, compared to the standoff at the Beirut campus, students who spoke to The Daily Star said they felt good about the mobilization, even if it would not achieve its goals.
“We know they won’t end the tuition increase,” said one student who did not want to be identified. “The protests are a sign of student solidarity and strength which everyone should consider brave and respectable.”
“If the student activists could reach a compromise with the administrators, that would be a fantastic milestone,” he continued. “I am not taking part in the protests but still am happy to see what I’m seeing, I think the dean and president should be too, and take into account their demands.”