The GUC has just doled out punishment for some of the students involved in the protests over Yara Tarek's accidental death in the parking lot back in March, and their decision is currently causing an uproar on social media and among students of the university.
German University in Cairo students will be shocked to hear that one student has been expelled with four others suspended for participating in protests in March over the accidental parking lot death of Yara Tarek.
Although hundreds of students participated in the protest, the GUC have decided to take action against five students and one graduate. In a statement released on July 30th the university explained that actions were taken against these students for “participating in riots, detention, physical injuries, disrupting exams and studies, and various forms of assault on university students, staff, and personnel.”
The incident occurred in March after 19-year-old engineering student Yara Tarek was accidentally killed by a bus in the GUC parking lot. Angered over the death of their colleague, students organised demonstrations demanding that the parking system be improved, that all personnel responsible for the accident be held accountable, and that campus emergency services be re-examined. The call for protest was heard by hundreds bringing the university to a halt. After a couple of days and a plea from Tarek’s father to stop the protest, the demonstrations died down and classes resumed. Shortly thereafter, three students were detained for four days in May by Egyptian prosecution, investigating charges of assault on the university head and security guards. They were released pending a further investigation.
The only student to be indefinitely expelled happened to be Vice President of the Student Union, Karim Naguib, who told Ahram online that he has attended two administrative investigations since May. The first time they allegedly interrogated him for 3-6 hours, and the second they asked him to sign an apology and admit to wrong doing.
Rumours are currently flooding social media, with several students exchanging stories on what happened. According to one engineering student Omar Faydullah, “The university set them up for evoking chaos. They called the Neyaba who launched investigations into the matter. To spare possible jail time the university gave them an opportunity to apologise for their actions. However; the students returned to find a pre-written confession prepared by the university to be signed, which some theorise as papers framing them.”
The call for protest over the security situation in the GUC parking lot was not the result of one security failure but several. As Faydullah puts it, “The security system is all about protecting the building, not the people. At first it was a car theft in front of the university doors. Then it was an assault that the security tapes didn't catch because some security cams aren't working. Then a car got broken into inside the GUC and an iPad was stolen so the GUC started making everyone entering the parking sign a paper saying it's not GUC responsibility to protect any belongings.”
The GUC Insider were told that by Hazem Abdel Khalek, one of the suspended students that, “The disciplinary jury should be formed of not less than three people: A college dean and two professors – however, some of the suspended students were suspended in absentia, which is a clear violation of university's laws. The suspension didn't come from the disciplinary jury but from the emergencies administration who took over the entire investigation before the disciplinary jury was even formed." The punishments doled out to the protesting students range from being expelled indefinitely to being suspended for 1-3 semesters, as well as suspending a graduate of two years of GUC services. Students are allegedly allowed to request an appeal from a higher jury; however Abdel Khalek doesn’t expect anything will change.
Many believe that an example is being made of these students to thwart any future attempts. However one might also consider that any future attempt to protest could be quelled if the university addressed the legitimate concerns students brought up instead of spending months figuring out how to punish them to deter future demonstrations. At the end of the day the punishment may not be fair, although at the same time if this was a story about Cairo University then all the students involved could very likely have been arrested by now.
As for holding the actual people responsible for accidentally killing Tarek, an Egyptian court handed a suspended sentence of six months in prison to the university’s four drivers and a bus supervisor for their role in the unfortunate tragedy.
Here is how social media is reacting to the news: