On the first day of their academic year, Nile University students attended their Wednesday classes outside campus as a way of continuing their sit-in protesting the appropriation of campus buildings by Zuweil City for Science and Technology.
“We set up [makeshift classes] in the greenery outside the campus,” Nancy Mustafa, student and sit-in participant at Nile University said.
According to Mustafa, the attendance rate was almost a hundred percent. “The first class was attended by around 20 students; 25 students attended the second one.”
Nile University currently hosts 88 undergraduate students.
Mustafa said it was the professors’ suggestion to hold classes within the sit-in. “We all want to resume our sit-in without disrupting our academic year,” Mustafa said. “Since resolving the sit-in is not an option, and neither is letting go of our academic future, this seemed like the best option.”
The students are continuing their protest off campus after rejecting a solution that would deny them access to specialised laboratories on the Nile University campus needed for their studies.
The solution was proposed by a cabinet committee formed by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, which ten days ago recommended that Nile University use the buildings and laboratories of the Educational City in 6th of October, while Zuweil City would be allowed to use the disputed Nile University buildings for one year.
After the students rejected this proposition, the sit-in was forcibly cleared off campus by security. Five students were arrested and held overnight.
Heba Shalaby, a sit-in protester currently pursuing a Masters degree at Nile University, said for the past year and a half students had to attend their workshops in laboratories set-up in garages, or rent laboratories at Ein Shams University.
“As a post-graduate student, I need to take classes inside the laboratories in the [contested] Sheikh Zayed buildings,” Shalaby said.
Shalaby believed this obstacle would not disrupt the sit-in, explaining that “attending laboratory classes inside garages and rented laboratories for a year and a half wouldn’t be much of an upgrade from holding classes within the sit-in.”
President Mohamed Morsy is currently looking into the Nile University crisis in an attempt to find a swift solution, according to Shalaby. “We call on Morsy to either solve this issue or close down Nile University altogether,” Shalaby said.
The sit-in began in early September against the government’s decision to appropriate university buildings and give them to the Zuweil City. Both institutions claim they have the right to the buildings.
The sit-in participants were left alone by security on Wednesday. Mustafa said Central Security officials had left the sit-in and university security had remained on campus.