Today on May 5th, 2010 the communication arts students of the Lebanese American University went on strike and did not attend any of the classes today. The strike was held in protest of the poor state our studio is currently in and how nothing is being done to improve.
We, as LAU students who pay our tuitions just like everyone else in the university, have the right to have decent up-to-date equipment as well as a decent studio to work in.
Our cameras are more than 10 years old, we just got 4 new cameras which are not enough for the 200 communication arts students! We do not have enough editing programs, the studio is a mess…the details of our demands that were included in the petition we handed in a few weeks earlier can be found on the facebook event of the strike http://bit.ly/bYg0VU or on the facebook group http://bit.ly/dxEmNo .
We started preparing early morning as we put up flyers on the fine arts building stating our demands and pointing out the problems that are occuring in the studio..after we finished hanging the last flyer the dean of students of LAU came and tore them down because we had to get approval for anything we hang on campus. That actualy meant that we are not allowed to hang flyers since the guidance office will surely not accept (we tried that afterwards and they called the dean of students to check if it was ok and he refused).
We perpared posters and stuff like that and held them in the fine arts area; that was acceptable the university has no problem with that. Everything was running smoothly until we noticed that today was orientation day at LAU where high school students come and visit our campus to see how it is in order to decide later on whether or not to enroll themselves in LAU. At 12:00 pm, a band was scheduled to perform for the new students at the fine arts area, but we were there protesting which “ruins the image of the university”. We were approached by the dean of students again and he asked us to take down the posters and hang them back up at 12:30 when the concert was over; we did not accept and kept the posters up. The dean of students then told us that we shall suffer the consequences of our actions and gave us a final chance to take them down. When we refused he started taking pictures of the students protesting I don’t know for what reason. Then he asked the security guard to take our ID cards, which they did; he also confiscated many of the cameras and the video camera that was taping the whole protest (which he is still holding). In the meantime some other communication arts students were down at the studio with the dean of the Arts and Sciences Department showing her around to see for herself in what state is the studio in; she was very responsive and supportive of our cause and promised us change which we really apperaciated.
I went down to the studio to tell the rest of us of how they were taking away our ID cards so we decided to give the dean of students ALL of our IDs, I collected them and went up and handed them to him, he thanked me. I collected some more ID cards from communication arts students who arrived a bit late and handed them again to the dean of students. He took them from me and asked me to leave campus!! I asked why and the answer was that what I am doing is impolite; he said “2ellet 7aya”. I explained to him that I was just collecting the rest of the IDs because he had sent the security guards to collect them in the first place! He continued by saying that it was impolite and that I should leave campus immediately. I asked if I could take my things first, he refused. I was escorted out of LAU.
I went and had a labneh sandwich with olives, tomatoes and cucumbers:)
As I was heading out of the market just across the street from LAU, I hear the secutiry guard calling me to go in. I find the head of security standing at the gate who was there to kindly let me back in. With his help along with the help of the chairperson of the communication arts department and one of the vice presidents and other faculty members as well as the support of my fellow communication arts students who were protesting I was able to go back in the university because the reasons for which I was kicked out were not valid!
Once back in, I met with the dean of students on campus. He looked at me and gave me this disapointed look, I told him that I did not understand why he thought of what I did was impolite and that all what I wanted to do is deliver the message of the students and myself that we are all united and we are all together on this. He explained that what I did was indecent, I explained to him and said that if I knew that it was indecent I wouldn’t have done it. We ended the conversation by him telling me that he is fully supportive of our case and that it’s ok, it’s all sorted out now (my issue of getting kicked out). I thanked him and went back to the protest.
We kept our peaceful protest going until it was around 5:00 pm; after that we cleaned up after ourselves and left fine arts area after hearing that the administration has started taking immediate action.
Hopefully we shall witness real change soon, we will follow up on how things are going and will not rest until we get what we are entitled to.
We accomplished something today and we are very proud of ourselves and we’re glad that the administration is taking us seriously. I just feel so ashamed that there are a lot of communication arts students who did not show up, who decided to sleep in today since there were no classes or went to the beach because coming to the protest is “a waste of time”; it is as if this wasn’t for them as well. Shame on them, whoever they may be.