BEIRUT

Lebanon News

AUB tuition dispute nears resolution, one way or another

AUB students protest at the campus in Beirut, Friday, March 21, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Students at the American University of Beirut stood firm on their demands for a halt in a potential tuition increase, staging a small sit-in on campus Friday, as unconfirmed reports circulated that Provost Ahmad Dallal had tendered his resignation.

When contacted by The Daily Star, Dallal said that he was “not aware” of such reports. He has been present at previous meetings between student representatives and the administration.

“The provost is currently out of the country. If and when there is a statement to be made, the media will be advised accordingly,” an AUB spokesperson said, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, the university’s Board of Trustees is meeting in New York. Among the topics under discussion is the university’s budget for next year and the proposed tuition increase.

AUB argues that the increase in tuition is necessary for the university to continue functioning at a high standard in the coming years. But students, burdened by repeated tuition hikes over the past years, are demanding more transparency on how their tuitionmoney is being spent.

Students are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the meetings.

“They are discussing our financial tuition of next year but nothing is known yet. They will report to us in two or three days,” said Jinane Abi Ramia, vice president of the University Student Faculty Committee.

Abi Ramia said that while both students and faculty were abuzz with rumors that Dallal had submitted his resignation, she was unable to confirm the reports.

“As USFC we will continue our meetings with the president when he comes back,” she told The Daily Star. “I think he [Dallal] is a good guy. And I think that he has good intentions and he cares about justice and fair demands for the students.”

While some members of the student body this week continued their protest of the proposed tuition hikes, turnout was relatively small compared to previous demonstrations.

Abi Ramia said midterms were to blame for the relatively small showing at protest events this week. “It’s the most stressful week of the semester,” she told The Daily Star.

Depending on the decisions taken by the Board of Trustees in the coming days, AUB students may expand their protests.

“The students were talking about escalating actions if the decisions were not suitable for their demands,” Abi Ramia explained.

At a town hall gathering earlier this month, students had threatened an open-ended hike if the administration refused to freeze tuition increases.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 22, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

When contacted by The Daily Star, Dallal said that he was "not aware" of such reports. He has been present at previous meetings between student representatives and the administration.

AUB argues that the increase in tuition is necessary for the university to continue functioning at a high standard in the coming years. But students, burdened by repeated tuition hikes over the past years, are demanding more transparency on how their tuitionmoney is being spent.

Students are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the meetings.

Depending on the decisions taken by the Board of Trustees in the coming days, AUB students may expand their protests.


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