As GUC is being one of the main focuses of media, everyone reports on the issue with their own agenda. I’m very thankful of the help and solidarity we are getting from many organizations and students from the whole country, in Egypt and other countries as well.I’d like to write the whole story of the GUC students’ struggle since day1, as a GUC Alumni, being part of the movement and blogging about it since it started.
The German University in Cairo is a private university that was established in (the date is interesting) Feb 11th, 2002. The University opening was made by the support of Ex-President Mubarak and the German Chancellor at the moment Gerhard Schröder. That’s the political hand in the GUC, and you can imagine who inspire the administration how to run this institution.
Main rule, you know when you join GUC (when I did in 2005) No Politics, No Religion. Such basic human right is taken from an academic institution that I believe builds the next leaders, so how come you want to build a leader with no political background? In the religion side, the first class was struggling to get a mosque to pray in, that they gave them “A corner” to pray in, for the first 4 years, till it developed a bit into a bigger spot. Every active working group that seems (even if not true) religious was closed by the administration since 2003, and no political groups were allowed permission to be formed till 2011.
GUC has been open for 8 years and students didn’t have a contribution in the decision-making process at all. There was no student union, council or any kind of student representation. The case of student union have been opened few times by me and friends of mine with the founder Mr. Mansour and the answer was always the same “No, Forget, I will not collect you from prisons, or I don’t want Muslim Brother in the University”.
Everything has a spark, and this #OccupyGUC movement spark starts with March 2011. Few weeks after the removal of Mubarak. Students decided that it’s time they have their say in the university, they made a protest, asking for a student union. The administration didn’t bother to give them what they wanted, and kept stalling and doing meetings after meetings with no results. 16 students started a sit-in in campus to pressure them. The following day the administration asked the students to end this sit-in and they will find an email with a proper solution, they found themselves “suspended” till their parents come and talk to the GUC president. The reasons were “having a sit-in in campus, and putting the lives of student in jeopardy by protesting indoor,” This ended with their parents coming, disagreeing on what the university did, and the student movement won a student union few days after.
In April 2011 the GUC administration punished one of the students for “tweeting Negatively on GUC”.
In May 2011, GUC student got a good win, by getting a student union, now it’s time to get another demand, a chair in the board. This can only done by having a new constitution/bylaws that allows this, especially after the university gave the students weak bylaws that give the union no powers. The students got a promise from the administration that they can write their own bylaws and work upon it.
Summer was the time we’ve met the real face of GUC administration, putting obstacles in every step of the way and they were far from helpful or respectful to the student body. We found out that GUC is spying on their students and when the GUC president Mr. Hashem lied about the graduation issue (he told us we will get our certificates in the graduation ceremony and that did not happen)
By October, 2011, the constitution that was drafted by students was done and it’s time to get their part of the promise, but they found the surprise, “Your time is up, and it’s time for a new SU to lead the way”, says Prof. Laila Mahran, Vice Dean of Academic Affairs in GUC. This only means that students will do another elections and SU based on the old “powerless” bylaws and then maybe they can do new bylaws. Students were furious as they were promised something but as usual never met. It seems there is a big similarity between SCAF and GUC administration in many means.
In November 2011, GUC students decided to start a strike, “no education, till we get freedom”. They demanded to get their rights of writing their own bylaws and applying it. They organized many protests and stands to support their case, but sadly Mohammed Mahmoud Clashes started in Tahrir, and the country was the main focus.
A New Year starts and the old regime gets stronger and freedom gets weaker. We lose a dear student, Karim Khuzam in the Port-Said Massacre. His best friend wants to put his picture instead of Mubarak’s but the administration refuses. All he wanted to do is to pay his respect to his best friend along side with his colleagues, but that was declined. However students did that, and there was over 1500 students protesting against SCAF and paying respect to Karim. They put his picture and entered the building to represent their demands: “A Memorial for Karim Khuzam, stays here forever. And the removal of Mubarak’s Memorials”.
In February 2012, the administration accused them of causing “riots” and putting the other students’ lives in danger, again, and called 5 students and TA to be summoned. Few days later, 2 of them were expelled and 3 more suspended for 2 weeks. The disciplinary committee took this ruthless decision, lead by Ibrahim El Demairy, ex-minister in Mubarak’s era, during his time there was this tragedy where 400 Egyptians lost their lives in a burning train. No one was found guilty; he didn’t even take responsibility or even developed the train services, years later more accidents happened.
Feb 29th was a glorious day in the history of student activism in GUC. over 2000 students standing in solidarity with the expelled students, chanting against the administration and against Mr. El Demairy. No answer as usual, so again, the students decided to start a sit-in, this time, 70 students were in it. The next day, the sit-in moved outside the campus, after the administration called the parents of the students (as if they are in high school) and told them that those students should leave campus.
A Sit-in that was started by only Amr Abdelwahab – one of the expelled students- outside the campus, were joined by the 35 students inside, and that was the start of #OccupyGUC. Tents came the next days, and the movement got more attention and got more powerful. 2 students, Mohamed Dawood and Mohammed Hazem decided to start a hunger strike in solidarity with the demands, in less than 5 days they were 13 students, 2 from AUC, 1 from Nile University and the rest from GUC on hunger strike.
In March, 5th, 2012, the #OccupyGUC movement is in its 6th day, with a big solidarity from #EgyStudents around the country and the world.
The Demands are the following:
- Return the expelled students with no condition
- Return the suspended TA (returned)
- Make a referendum on the “Legitimate” Student Union constitution, which was made by students. Since it’s a student right to write their own bylaws.
- Have new SU elections based on that constitution.
- Remove Ibrahim el Demairy from the disciplinary committee, based on his history of ruthless decisions, and for not being fair or neutral in any decision made by his committee.
Pictures of the movement can be found here