AUB Students Launched “We Won’t Pay” Campaign Against Their University

@JamaleddineLama | AUB

The American University of Beirut’s students are calling for a tuition strike after the administration adopted a new dollar exchange rate last month, raising the tuition fees by up to 160 percent.

The AUB Secular club has now initiated the “We Won’t Pay” campaign, following their protest that yielded no response other than police aggression against the demonstrators.

Last month, AUB President Fadlo Khuri announced that tuition fees must be paid at a rate of 3,900 LBP. The decision has made tuition unaffordable for many families that are affected by the crippling economic situation in Lebanon.

Khuri justified the decision by stating that it was necessary “for the financial survival of AUB”.

Shortly after, the Lebanese American University (LAU) followed the footsteps of AUB and adopted the same rate of 3,900 LBP.

“I may be putting my education at risk because I only have one semester left before I graduate, but I will not pay the full tuition,” Karim Saadeh, member of AUB’s Student Faculty Committee (USFC), told The National.

Student Leaders told The National that they hope the strike will delay payments so that the state regulate’s private university fees before students are forced to drop out.

“This is the last chance for the government to intervene,” Jad El Hani, a member of the AUB Secular Club warned.

However, Lebanon’s legislators are known for acting notably slow or not at all.

Hani said that student leaders did meet with caretaker Minister of Education Tarek Majzoub to get him to assist them, but to no effect.

The three-week COVID-19 lockdown beginning on Thursday will surely limit students’ ability to protest before the tuition is due, even though students have been demonstrating against the increase in tuition fees for over a month.

Students of AUB noted that before increasing the fees, the administration did not discuss it with them and has not been available to respond to requests to meet student representatives to tackle the issue.

“AUB is not behaving like it is based in Lebanon,” Tanios El Kassis, a member of the Parents and University Students Union, told The National. “Can’t they see the economic situation here is terrible? Can’t they see that people have lost their jobs, and 60 percent of Lebanese are now poor?”

“We are not begging for help. We have the solution and we want it to be implemented,” he added.

However, the deadline for paying tuition fees is approaching. It is indeed a difficult time to be a university student in Lebanon.

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