BEIRUT: Despite the current political situation that the country is going through, a number of Lebanese universities announced that they will be resuming normal classes on Wednesday, October 23. This decision was met with huge backlash from students and faculty, which ultimately ended up pressuring administrations, including that of the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese University, to reconsider their decision.
“Majority of university students, faculty, and administration members are putting their country first and will not be able to attend work/classes. The opening of universities will discourage people from protesting because students cannot afford to waste the amount of money paid for highly priced tuition, which is a ramification of the increasing inflation,” said Hadi Saade, a student at the Lebanese American University. LAU announced that is will not hold classes on Wednesday, but intends to resume operations on Thursday, October 24.
“We call upon all academic institutions to close their doors in support of the cause their students believe in,” he added.
Faculty members also showed dissatisfaction with the reopening. Whether they teach at universities that have declared Wednesday a normal teaching day or at universities that remain silent till this moment, academics agreed that it is not the right time to give classes and called for a strike against this decision. The strike took place on Tuesday at 7 pm.
Academics are planning another strike to reaffirm their support for the revolution. It is an invitation for both professors and students and is set to take place on Wednesday in Riad El Solh at noon.
“The purpose of the meeting is to come up with a list of demands and to take a unified position with regards to what is happening. I think it is still not appropriate to go back to class,” Tarek El Masri, a Professor from the Lebanese American University, told Annahar. “We should keep on learning from the streets, teaching the whole world what a civilized protest looks like, and affecting change in our country for the best of our tomorrow.”
An announcement issued by faculty members at AUB earlier today also highlighted the majority’s call against the administration’s primary decision to teach classes normally.
“We believe that we need to align with the broader demands of the masses. A return to a regular work routine at AUB is a return to normalcy when the political situation itself is far from being ‘normal.’” The statement said. “We cannot go back and teach our regular syllabi when the streets are the prime sites of learning… The streets are a classroom and the classroom is on the streets.”
Student groups and clubs also urged students to skip attending classes and to remain faithful to the causes of the protest, stressing on the importance of coordinating their movements.
“This [universities’ decisions in reopening] is deliberately belittling all what is happening in the country in terms of the revolution in the face of official policies which hurt the future of students in these universities directly. We call for a general strike and boycott by students and faculty members collectively,” a statement released by the student group MADA included.
Universities that will officially be closed tomorrow are LAU, Sagesse, Saint-Joseph University, Haigazian University, Notre Dame University, AUST, and the University of Balamand. Those that later joined the strike are AUB and LU.
"Closing the university encourages the students to take a stand and not to give up until they have everything they're asking for," Elise Nemr, a student at USJ, told Annahar.
Additionally, student groups are organizing a strike against universities' decisions to resume classes. The strike will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 am and aims to peacefully block the roads heading towards Hamra and Saint George.
“We won’t allow anyone to stop us from protesting our demands. We don’t even care if this will delay our graduation. There are priorities in life, and my country is now my top priority,” Jana Barakat, another student from LAU, said.
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