CAIRO: While demonstrations were occurring at both the judges and journalists syndicates on Thursday, Cairo also bore witness to one of the first demonstrations at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in a long while. Approximately 100 students attended a teach-in, followed by a sit-in on the steps inside AUC.
The student activists placed tape over their mouths and sat on the stairs for about an hour in their attempt to spread the word of what was going on beyond the walls of Egypt’s most prestigious university.
The students who helped organize the event hope that it will galvanize AUC in, at least, understanding and being aware of the issues that directly affect them and their friends. Many of the student activists have friends that have been arrested and are currently behind bars.
“We were out there because it is a huge, huge issue, Will Hummel, an AUC senior, tells The Daily Star Egypt.
The group consisted of mainly Egyptians, although a few foreigners, including Hummel, made time to support their friends and fellow activists who have been arrested and detained over the previous months.
“The timing was crucial because it is the end of the semester and students don’t know what is really going on about the judge’s and the arrests taking place, Yasmin El Rifae, a graduating senior, believes.
The idea of a teach-in and sit-in was a joint effort, with much of the student coordination being done by El Rifae and Hummel.
“I felt it was necessary to do this so people would see and ask questions, Hummel says. “If we had three people ask about what is going on that is great . then in a few weeks those three might be asked about the situation in Egypt and they will be told.
“The main purpose was to get the attention of the rest of the student body who are ignorant of the situation, El Rifae says. “People are really not that political on this campus so we hoped that this would make them at least somewhat political.
Hummel believes that this is the best way to bring political awareness onto AUC’s campus.
“Hopefully it will get the word out at the university because students here are so apathetic about what is going on . we hope that we were able to educate them on what is going on in the rest of the country, he continues.
“The fact that I have a friend in jail made me want to tell them that even though they go to an elite university they need to act . for themselves, their country and their friends.
The sit-in as well as the teach-in was coordinated between students and professors in the hopes that more students at AUC will become politically knowledgeable about the situation in the country.
“If they [students] don’t know what is going on in the country right around them, especially since most of the action is almost around the corner from the university, how are they expected to be active about the issues that affect them? asks El Rifae.
“Overall, I thought the sit-in was a success, as people came by and asked what we were doing . after asking some of them joined us on the stairs in our silence, adds Hummel.