Students and Academics Strike: ‘We will fight for our rights!’

“No book can teach our students what the streets are teaching them today," Lina Daouk-Öyry, Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut, told Annahar.
by Sally Farhat and Paula Nawfal

23 October 2019 | 16:39

Source: by Annahar

From today's morning student protest. (Annahar).

BEIRUT: Anger, frustration, and the hope for a better Lebanon are what systematized Wednesday’s students and academics’ protests.

In reaction to some universities’ primary decision to resume normal classes, a number of students from various universities gathered to peacefully block the streets of Beirut at 6:30 am.

“It is crucial for universities to be closed during this period. The country is revolting, and one of the main components of this revolutions are the youth, Lebanon’s future,” Taha Khaled, a student from the Lebanese American University, told Annahar. “It is only normal for us not to attend classes and focus on our future because with the current status quo, we have no future.”

Young protesters had one message: the country is undergoing major change and the situation is "beautifully abnormal." Accordingly, businesses, and specifically universities, should not resume normal operations. Their aim? Classes are to be suspended until all the demands of protesters are accomplished.

“Those in power need to feel our presence. Shutting down all private institutions pressures them. They cannot see the entire country on snooze and not do something about it,” said Haya Serhan, a new graduate. “It is very clear that the people want early elections and a technocratic government. We will not resume our normal lives until all requests are met.”

Waving with the Lebanese flags, protesters blocked the entrance to Hamra from Kantari, the entrance to Downtown from Kantari, and Burj el Murr.

“We do not want to attack anyone, we just want our right to protest and this right cannot be accomplished if we resume classes,” one of the student protesters told Annahar.

The army did not resist the road blockage, but asked students to open the roads for doctors, ambulances, and bread trucks. The students complied and made sure these vehicles passed with ease.

“I do not want to immigrate but my country is pushing me to and that is why this is the youth’s time to revolt,” said Sara Saadeh, a protesting student. “High unemployment rates, low salaries, and the lack of proper orientation and opportunities for new graduates, pushed me to revolt.”

In support of their students, professors and researchers from the Academics’ Gathering in Lebanon organized a strike in Riad Al Solh.

“I always ask my students what do they plan to do after graduation and their answer is almost always: ‘we’re all leaving.’ We don’t want this to happen anymore; we want to teach, and we want our students to remain in this country,” Lina Daouk-Öyry, Associate Professor of Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management at the American University of Beirut, told Annahar. “No book can teach our students what the streets are teaching them today.”

The Academics’ Gathering in Lebanon was created with the priority of supporting university students and in hope that this revolution will lead to a better future. The gathering also aims to create a platform for all academics to support each other, especially professors that teach in more politicized environments.

Photo from the strike organized by the Academics’ Gathering in Lebanon

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