BEIRUT: LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra Wednesday stuck to his guns on a tuition hike, despite student protests against the increase that went into effect this semester. While Jabbra praised the mostly peaceful efforts of LAU’s “sons and daughters,” he mentioned little about any sort of compromise that could be reached concerning the rise in tuition.
“From the moment we received the first petition on Sept. 30 stating the grounds for the protest, the deans of students embraced their concerns and invited all students on both campuses to meet with me for a discussion on this matter,” he said in a statement. “The students provided personal and moving testimonies to the financial hardships their parents face in this economically depressed country.”
Jabbra also clarified that four students were referred to the school’s disciplinary committee for “disruptive” behavior but were neither expelled nor suspended.
Jabbra went on to list the joint actions of the students and the administration in tackling the issue of the tuition increase, pointing out that both deans, Raed Mohsen from Beirut’s campus and Mars Semaan in Jbeil, were supportive of the students’ action and even offered them their assistance. The two were present during Monday’s protests in the capital, and Tuesday’s larger, more organized demonstration in the north.
But the statement warned that breaches of LAU’s Code of Conduct would not be tolerated.
The president did offer a few concessions, including extending the deadline for financial aid. Some special cases will be allowed to defer payment, and others will be able to report to the president himself to present their case.
Still, the concessions and the praise directed at the students’ activism was not enough to calm their anger and outright opposition to the tuition increase.
Elsa Saadeh, a student organizer from the Jbeil campus, praised the increase in transparency but said that “President Jabbra did not tell us what we wanted to hear.”
This Friday, students at LAU campuses in Jbeil and Beirut will gather on campus to press their demands, she added. “It’s not a protest. ... This Friday will be more about the quality rather than the quantity. With some campaigners no longer in the mix, we’ll have to resort to different measures, and we will do just that.”