Walking through AUB on Friday was an interesting experience, considering that students and professors alike were discussing the events that had unfolded during the episode of Kalam Ennas, hosted on Thursday, February 16.
To the surprise of many, the Red Oak Club carried out a protest against the increasing tuition fees during the live show. This was met with a giggling Marcel Ghanem and President Fadlo Khuri calling the students out for their “post-truth mentality,” and saying something along the lines of Trump having arrived to Lebanon.
The whispers and opinions being shared across campus have taken different angles, but are all deserving of some thought and recognition.
The most simple and straightforward of these opinions –present within both faculty and students – is how unnecessary the entire episode was, with individuals calling it a “puff piece for AUB.”
A popular joke among AUB students is that we can’t go five minutes without mentioning that we’re enrolled in this university. It has become evident that the joke extends to the administration, which consistently propagates that the American University of Beirut is a top educational institution without necessarily feeling the need to consider the satisfaction levels of the student body or the faculty. They often look outward, and not nearly enough inwards.
Some believe that President Khuri’s response to the students was unjust. Others believe that the Red Oak Club should have staged their protest during the (badly-marketed) Town Hall meetings held on the previous day and that certain signs such as “150 years of colonialism” were unnecessary, while their counters commended them for forcing their voices to be heard. The legitimacy of the USFC was also questioned on live television, after a member of the committee swiftly dismissed his fellow students in favor of the administration’s claims.
Details of the controversy have been written up by our Arabic Editor, Ghina Abi-Ghannam, in this week’s Arabic news section.
The staged protest –as well as the confusion surrounding it – is indicative of a deeper problem, one that goes beyond the physical embodiment of the tuition fee increase. What happened on Kalam Ennas is clear evidence that somehow, despite both the student body and administration’s apparent desire for it, dialogue and transparency are still not present.