By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Protesting students at Cairo University refused to accept pledges by Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Amr Salama to give him one week to negotiate the discharge of university presidents and decided to continue their sit-in.
Delegations of students from Cairo, Helwan, Ain Shams and Future Universities met with Salama Tuesday to present their demand to discharge university presidents and deans of faculties as well as discuss new regulations for students.
Salama explained that he doesn’t have the authority to meet these demands because presidents of universities are equivalent to ministers and are appointed. He asked for a one week window to present these demands to the Higher Universities Council and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces who have the authority to make such changes.
Salama said that modifying student regulations comes under the jurisdiction of the Higher Universities Council.
However, the protesting students were not appeased. “We won’t leave until at least the president of the university, Hossam Kamel, is discharged,” said student Salman Imam.
Hundreds of Cairo University students protested Monday in front of the university’s iconic main dome demanding Kamel’s resignation, as well as the resignations of faculty deans, accusing them of colluding with the ousted regime.
The protests continued as tens of students held a sit-in at night and stood guard over the university’s gates fearing attacks by what they believe are thugs affiliated with the former regime.
In response, deans of the faculties, with the exception of Samy Abdel Aziz, dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication, decided to authorize Kamel to present their resignations. In response, Kamel decided to suspend academic activities in the university and evacuate the dorms.
However students refused the decision to suspend lectures as professors from the faculties of engineering and arts continued giving lectures and distributed class schedules.
“This is an attempt by Kamel to trigger divisions between protesters and other students demanding the resumption of lectures,” said Osmaa Al-Shafi’, general coordinator of an ad hoc student union set up after the revolution.
A number of students organized marches inside the university campus demanding the resumption of lectures when they found that lecture halls and buildings were closed on Tuesday.
Protesters said that the resignation authorizations are meaningless until they are executed.
“We didn’t get a clear response from Salama and all we can do is wait till next week but we are continuing our sit-in,” Al-Shafi’ said.
Similar sit-ins started at Ain Shams and Sohag universities.
When Salama visited the protesting students Tuesday he asked them to delegate a group to meet him at his office as well as ordered the resumption of lectures on Wednesday.
But it is unclear whether the resumption will take place because according to university by-laws, the dean has authority over the minister when it comes to the university’s internal affairs.
“We are discussing the best way to end the crisis as we risk cutting off the academic year which will lead to a doubling up of students next year,” Salama said on Monday during a symposium about scientific research.
“We are also discussing the best way to choose university deans and how best to conduct free and fair student union elections,” he added.
He suggested that heads of universities and deans be chosen through a regular job application process where potential candidates are screened by a panel, rather than through direct appointment or elections.