BEIRUT: Scores of students from the American University of Beirut protested Tuesday, after a fiery confrontation between the administration and students led to the revocation of eleven graduate students’ assistantship positions.
The protest Tuesday took place after a dramatic night, during which AUB personnel at around 2 a.m. forcibly removed from the campus graduate students participating in a demonstration, according to a social media post by one student.
Graduate students had pitched a tent outside an administrative building on Monday night, demanding fair compensation for their assistantship positions.
“The tent was a peaceful protest. Shame, shame, shame on you,” demonstrators shouted Tuesday.
The students called for the reinstatement of the assistantships for the eleven demonstrating graduate students, and for the administration to rescind a “dean’s warning” reportedly issued after Monday night's altercation. Holding an assistantship position waives tuition fees for students.
“The administration’s alarming decision to punish students for peacefully expressing their demands sets a dangerous precedent for all members of the AUB community,” the Facebook event page for the protest read.
AUB’s Dean of Students Talal Nizameddin released a response Tuesday noon, stating that the placement of the tent “was in clear violation” of AUB policies.
“The students were given a final deadline yesterday to dismantle the illegally placed tent and to cooperate with the university but the deadline passed, and the students continued to refuse to cooperate,” the statement read.
“They were alerted that continued refusal would result in the issuance of a dean’s warning, and that the consequences of receiving such a warning included the loss of graduate assistantships. They again refused.”
The current tension between graduate students and the AUB administration was instigated at the beginning of the semester when monthly stipends for graduate assistantships were canceled. The withdrawal of this financial support motivated the students to hold the initial protest, several months back.
“They’re forcing us to not have a stipend and also not work outside AUB,” Nadim Haidar, one of the protest’s organizers, told The Daily Star at the time.