By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Hundreds of Cairo University students protested Monday in front of the iconic main dome demanding the resignation of the university’s president, Hossam Kamel, and deans of their faculties, accusing them of being part of the ousted regime.
The students, joined by a number of professors, were demanding that the appointment of deans and heads of universities be via fair elections supervised by professors, a new set of student regulations and a reformed Universities’ Law.
“We demanded the overthrow of the regime and this means getting rid of all intellectuals, businessmen and others whose goals were served by the regime and Kamel is among them,” said Salem Madany, student at the Faculty of Commerce.
The protests were organized by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) students and witnessed the participation of students from the faculties of commerce, science, dentistry, arts and physical therapy.
MB students and a number of student activists affiliated with April 6 Youth Movement and Youth for Justice and Freedom from five public universities and three private universities formed the Revolution’s Student Union (RSU), demanding student freedoms, free student union elections and preserving free education.
“The union’s aim is to unify the students’ office in voicing our demands in amending the university’s law to ensure freedom and the return of Egypt’s Student Union [to represent] students,” said Osama Al-Shafei, general coordinator of the union.
He said that they are preparing new students’ regulations and will present it to the Minister of Higher Education because he has the authority to discharge heads of universities and to the Supreme Council of the Armed Force that has the authority to issue laws.
Student Unions were dissolved by the Supreme Council for Universities and new elections were scheduled for April. Ministry of Interior affiliated personnel were replaced by civil security, as dictated by a previous court ruling.
“We want free student elections so that students participate in managing and decision making in universities,” Al-Shafei said.
Students at the Faculty of Mass Communication continued their sit-in for the second consecutive day in front of the faculty demanding the resignation of its dean, Samy Abdel Aziz.
They accused Abdel Aziz, a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), of attacking the revolution.
Students at the Faculty of Physical Therapy organized a march outside the university before they joined the protests demanding the resignation of the faculty’s dean, Adel Nosseir.
“He asked us to give him two weeks to leave but didn’t do anything; no one at the faculty wants him,” said Ahmed Rashad, a student at the faculty.
“He forced us to buy certain books and if we don’t buy them, we fail the subject,” he added.
The students were joined by a number of professors who said they suffered from security’s interference and were denied promotions and appointments because they weren’t approved by State Security.
“We support students’ right to protest and voice their demands but we as professors are committed to our demands that we listed in our general conference last month,” said Laila Sweif, member of March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities.
Professors demanded the amendment of Universities’ Law to allow more freedom in academic life, as well as, organizational reforms within universities to allow for electing heads of universities, deans of faculties and heads of sections.
“We want universities to be run from downside up rather than the authoritarian rule by the university’s head,” Sweif said.
“Kamel has good achievements concerning scientific research but awarding an honorary doctorate to Suzanne Mubarak wasn’t accepted at all,” she added.
Students said that State Security interfered in the university’s affairs with the help of Kamel, who was sentenced to three months in prison and was discharged from his post after banning an assistant professor from giving a lecture because she wears a niqab (full face veil).
However, Sweif said that some professors are reluctant to have administrations discharged in the middle of the academic year.
Students at the Modern Science and Arts Academy (MSA) organized a march inside the campus, the first in the university, demanding student freedoms.
“We have the same problems of public universities; we are required to get a lot of approvals to organize any event and our Student Union is inactive,” said Ahmed Sonbol, the university’s representative at the union.