“Occupy AUC: Fence-Climbing Edition”

You should read the post before this one, by my lovely wife.

(This is also a good description of what has been happening)

Are you up to speed now? Okay. So.

This Sunday I went to campus like I always do, on the 9 o’clock bus. But as the bus approached the university, I saw a crowd of students blocking the gate that the bus always drives through. So the bus just stopped in the street and let us out. It was bizarre, getting out of the bus on the wrong side of the campus fence. I walked to the gates to see what was up.

Some students were chanting. Many were looking on, grumpily. And others, I found as I approached, were arguing with the people keeping the gates closed. Certain students were guarding the gates and ensuring that only faculty were allowed to enter. And certain other students wanted to go to class, and were not permitted to do so. It was actually a very low energy situation. Aside from the occasional argument at the gate, everyone was quietly standing around, looking at their shoes or chit-chatting.

I attempted to convince the gate-guard kid to let me in, to no avail. So I climbed over the fence and went to work. Honestly, I don’t know why more of the non-striking students didn’t do the same. Campus was a ghost town until around 2pm when the students were convinced to open the gates. By that time, most of the classes had already been cancelled and many students of classes not-cancelled had decided to stay home.

This Thursday students blocked the gates again, and this time there didn’t let anyone through the gates. No faculty, no students. Nobody. But I did find out that several teachers and students did the logical thing and bypassed the silliness via fence-climbing. Even an older professor did so.

My inspiration to the masses notwithstanding, I used to support Occupy AUC. They are protesting the rise in tuition prices, and I think that the more outlandish AUC’s tuition gets, the more snobby and elitist it will become. And if only Americans and the richest, most western Egyptians can go there, the school will become that much more detached from the real Egyptian culture.

Also, I just enjoy being part of a university that empowers its students to become adults by giving them a stake in their own University. Sure, it might seem strange for a bunch of 19 year olds to have a say in university administration alongside tenured professionals, but that’s the point isn’t it? These kids won’t grow up to be intelligent, involved humans unless you give them a say in their future.

So I supported this, even when it was silly and their demands were outlandish, on principle. That is up until the point that I had to jump over that fence. Yeah, it was fun. But I can come up with lots of excuses to jump fences that don’t involve me not being able to attend the classes that I paid for. This protest is supposedly for “student rights” but they are refusing me my right to use the campus.

So, even if this works and I don’t have to pay as much tuition, I still won’t support this action. Because I shouldn’t have to climb over fences unless I want to.

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