BEIRUT: The Lebanese American University's lower gate quickly filled up with students, staff, faculty, and alumni. LAU President Joseph Jabra spoke through a megaphone, looking directly at the semi-circle formed ahead, and uttered simple words: “I am proud.”
With a sense of unified direction, the march began. The idea of the march was brought about by LAU faculty, and was organized by the Coalition of University Professors, an initiative that was created as part of the ongoing protests to highlight the role of academia in making change.
Students were the heart of this, their role was evident in their passionate screams and angry footsteps.
“All our calls are things we believe should change in Lebanon, things that every single student and every single Lebanese citizen need,” said Nazek Naja, an AUB student that shouted from the megaphone chants of unification and freedom.
As the protesters walked through Hamra's main street, the crowd began to grow. Protesters marched all the way to the Medial Center at the American University of Beirut where they were joined with more academic and student protesters from AUB.
The sentiment of determination only grew as LAU met with AUB, cheers erupting and turning into a harmonious chant of the national hymn. A little bit to the front, l’Universite Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth joined the crowd.
“We are the future” seemed more realistic at this time, with what’s at risk in a failing economy. Students that took part in this march believe in their duty to fight for their own rights and their own future in parallel with that of their country.
“We’re the ones who should be here, because it’s our future at stake,” said Sarmad Morcos, a student from USJ.
In all neighborhoods there were those encouraging and cheering smiles coming from windows, stores, and restaurants.
“Those who are on the balconies, come down, your people are here,” the group chanted loudly to the spectators.
The roads weren’t closed, so as the crowd passed ahead of cars and interrupted their ways, loud and continuous honks were heard. But instead of angry ones, they were in support of the march.
“We’re part of a student movement. It’s the future generation speaking up,” said Naja.
She added that the encouragement of professors is essential in the students’ ability and determination in joining the protests everyday.
“Professors have our back, they actually encouraged us to come down here, they want a better future for themselves and for us,” she said.
Another reason students were eager to be a significant part of the wave of change the protesters hope to achieve is their desire to stay in Lebanon. The lack of job opportunities has driven several young graduates out of the country, and now students who are about to graduate feel like they’re at a crossroads.
“I’m going to graduate soon, and I don’t know if i’m going to stay in Lebanon, but I would love to stay in Lebanon,” said Stephanie Nicolas, an LAU student. “There are no job opportunities, it’s not about ‘oh this major has a lot but that one doesn’t,' it’s enough, there’s no work anywhere.”
For their present and their future, the students marched. For their country and its people, they joined the rest of the citizens in Martyr’s Square. The chants were not over. The people were not tired. The protesters were not discouraged. The revolution went on.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.