AUB: Stop the Tuition Fees Increase

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February 27th Protest


I’m writing this quick post to support all AUB students demanding the immediate abolition of the plan to increase tuition fees. An estimated 1,000-2,000 students are expected to participate in front of College Hall on Thursday February the 27th.

I graduated last year from the American University of Beirut and, despite some issues, I still consider myself a proud member of what I consider to be an exceptional student body. It just so happens that my generation was the last to graduate before AUB’s decision to increase tuition fees. We did not suffer from the consequences of the increase despite already complaining at the time of the heavy financial burden on our parents’, guardians’ or our own shoulders.

The tuition fees increase is quite simply a betrayal of the promise made to AUB’s students. AUB’s whole existence, supposedly, is so that they may have life and have it more abundantly. But its current policy widens the socioeconomic gap in a country that is already at a Dystopians level. AUB’s current policy not only prevents the abundance of life, it prevents life itself. 

I will be joining the protests with several fellow alumni.


This is what the “Stop the Tuition Fees” Coalition announced on the event page:

“After the administration’s refusal to comply with the demands of the students, represented by the USFC “Tuition Increase Committee”, you are invited to join us in a sit in facing College Hall on Thursday February 27. This is an event among a series of escalating movements to urge the administration to freeze the tuition increase planned for the next semester and to respect the demands raised by the “Tuition Increase Committee”.

Students of the American University of Beirut”


More context is given by Ibrahim Abdelghany on the event page:

The minimum wage is less than $400 in Lebanon.
– President Peter Dorman: 37,933$/month MORE THAN 94X THE MINIMUM WAGE
– Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and AUBMC: 50,105$/month MORE THAN 125X THE MINIMUM WAGE
– Vice President of Finance: 25,038$/month MORE THAN 62X THE MINIMUM WAGE
– Vice President of Human Resources: 18,943$/month MORE THAN 47X THE MINIMUM WAGE
– Provost Ahmad Dallal: 23,234$/month MORE THAN 58X THE MINIMUM WAGE


Official findings of the Tuition Increase Committee:

“Official findings:

1- Administrators at AUB earn on average 19% higher than the US administrators while professors earn 43% less than gross salaries in the US.
At AUB, administrators earn 3 times more than a full time professor.

Examples of administration salaries. Information available on the website of the Economic Research Institute :
– President Peter Dorman: salary + compensations 455,205$ /year equivalent to 37,933$/month
– Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and AUBMC: Mohammad Sayegh: salary + compensations 601,271%/year equivalent 50,105$/month
– Vice President of Finance: Stephen Kenny: salary + compensations 300,467$/year equivalent to 25,038$/month
– Vice President of Human Resources: James Radulski: salary+ compensation 227,326$/year equivalent to 18,943$/month
– Provost Ahmad Dallal: salary+ compensations 278,815$/year equivalent to 23,234$/month
– In parallel, the highest salary a professor at AUB does not exceed 79,000$/year equivalent to 6,583$/month

2- Evidence of inefficiency in the system: AUB has two offices that do the same work with huge discrepancies in costs: the Facility Planning and Design Unit (FPDU) charges at least 3 times more than the Physical Plant department for the same service.
Tuition Increase Committee”



Here is the timeline of events as shared by the page “Stop the Tuition Fees Increase” :

January 16

Following last year’s substantial and unjustified increase in the tuition fees, a committee was formed and tried to tackle this problem by passing a petition around AUB students and negotiating with the administration. Despite the efforts made, several interfering factors prevented the achievement of significant results. This year, the USFC established a committee called “tuition fees increase committee” that is independent of last year’s committee and which will address the points of the petition. The committee is constituted of 5 USFC members who will act ad-hoc USFC: Jinane Abi Ramia, Tala Kammourieh, Amir Richani, Abdallah Abboud and Youssef Sandakli. The committee will act in a systematic and planned way, learning from last year’s experiences and taking their findings to the next level. A meeting will be scheduled soon with the President and the Provost where the petition points will be discussed, and an action plan will be established according to their response.

February 5

Message from the tuition increase committee :
“Dear AUB students,

As part of our efforts to tackle the issue of increase in tuition fees (and other university expenses), we would like to collect testimonies from you on how the increase affected you and/or your family. These testimonies can be anything from payment difficulties your parents had to endure in order to cover for the unplanned increase, loss of a property, debt from a bank or a family relative that you could have spared if you knew ahead of time about the amount to be paid, to influences on your siblings or anyone else living at your household, postponing a medical procedure for one of your parents, changing your siblings’ choice of university.
Please share your stories with us, for that is one very important empowerment for us to get our demands answered!
Share them by sending any of us a Facebook message; please mention your faculty, major and class, and let us know if you’d like your story to be anonymous or not.

Best regards,
Tuition Increase Committee,
Jinane Abi Ramia, Tala Kammourieh, Amir Richani, Abdallah Abboud, Youssef Sandakli”

February 11

Message from the tuition increase committee
“Dear AUBites,
The tuition increase committee has been collecting valuable information related to the tuition increase, the associated causes, as well as the decision making process at AUB concerning financial matters. This week, we will be conveying the information collected from different stakeholders on a daily basis. One of the news that came to our attention is: AUB has decided to address the Internet problem that the university faces, by hiring a private company to manage AUB IT. The new support system will cost 7 million dollars. The company was not chosen through the normal bidding process, rather, it was directly contracted for unknown reasons so far.

Tuition increase Committee”

February 12

Message from the Tuition Increase Committee
“Official results of the meeting with the head of the Financial Aid office:
-The 15 credits policy was initially established primarily to support the financial aid due to the shortage of funds.
– This year, the number of students who registered in AUB was much less than the expected number and the donors decreased their funds due to the political instability in the country, giving rise to the need of an increase in the tuition to partially support the financial aid budget
-Accordingly, the tuition fees are currently contributing to 60% of the financial aid budget, versus 40% only from donors.
– However, the financial aid office is planning to Significantly Decrease the financial aid allocations next year for the new students and oblige students who petition for additional financial aid to take loans instead.

Tuition Increase Committee”

February 14

Message from the Tuition Increase Committee:

“Official updates:
This year, the Lebanese government is taxing AUB an additional 4 to 6 million dollars. This increase is partly due to the fact that AUB did not pay the taxes before and because the government decided to consider the benefits and educational scholarships for staff and professors as a form of salary.  Since students contribute to 89% of the university budget, AUB will rely significantly on the tuition fees increase to cover the taxation. According to stakeholders, the increase in tuition fees will be of 6% and maybe more (8% is being discussed). The exact increase will be decided upon during the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting which will take place in the week of March 4 to 12 in New York City.  Meanwhile, the tuition increase committee will meet with the president and provost next Friday February 21st to discuss this issue before the final decision is taken by the BOT.

Tuition Increase Committee”

February 18

Yet another update from the Tuition Increase Committee:
“Dear AUBites,
The Tuition Increase Committee (TIC) would like to share with you its action plan:
– The first stage consists of data collection, investigations and meetings with different stakeholders. This phase has come to an end.
-The next step is to meet with the president and provost this Friday, February 21st, where questions, arguments and demands will be raised and our dissatisfaction will be conveyed.
We all honor and respect AUB and we should make sure it preserves its historical qualities of equality, activism and socioeconomic diversity that make us all proud to belong to it. We do honor the initiatives you took to raise your voice and the great spirit you displayed and we invite you to keep posted but stay Patient and Peaceful so that the committee proceeds with its formal plan. We will try our best to come up with solutions that fit everyone but we need your commitment to keep calm until the results of the meeting are displayed.
As you noticed, we are adopting the maximum transparency approach since you are the first and main party involved in this. All we ask for is trust and cooperation from your behalf. We will stand in this together.
Tuition Increase Committee”

February 22

“Dear AUBites,
The tuition increase committee met with the President Peter Dorman and the Provost Ahmad Dallal in the presence of the Dean of Students Affairs Talal Nizameddine on Friday February 21, 2014 at 3:00pm. The committee conveyed the dissatisfaction of AUB students with the unjustified 37% increase in the tuition fees since the implementation of the 15credits policy, and communicated their dismay with regards to the lack of transparency, lack of role in the decision making, poor services in relation to the amount of tuition paid, and their incapability to afford to pay the tuition anymore. The committee stated that students have lost trust in the administration and feel they are the first target for any increase in costs. Accordingly, the committee demanded that the President commits to freeze the tuition increase at a rate of 0% in order to discuss the list of demands that the committee came up with. This condition was meant to prove the readiness of the administration to listen to the students’ demands and cooperate to search for potential solutions for the increase in costs other than the tuition fees. As a response to this condition, the President refused to freeze the tuition increase and clarified that it was impossible for AUB to build its budget based on such decision. He revealed several systemic reasons for his response. The committee presented evidence based counter-arguments for the reasons that he stated but his decision was maintained. A detailed report will be published once his approval is granted.
Tuition Increase Committee”

February 23

“Dear AUBites,
I was following up on all your posts and comments and it has come to my knowledge that a sit-in is being organized on Thursday February 27th at 1:00pm. First, as a Vice President of the USFC, I would like to express my pleasure and honor to represent such a proactive community. Second, it is your utmostright to speak up your concerns and make your voice heard. However, I would like to invite you to abide by the Student Code of Conduct and remain peaceful during the sit-in so that you preserve your total freedom of speech. Meanwhile, I assure you that the Tuition Increase Committee will be raising all your demands to the administration, in particular to the President and will support all your actions as long as they remain controlled and peaceful.
Jinane Abi Ramia”


Designed by Tamara Jurdi
Designed by Tamara Jurdi

And finally, images from the 1974 AUB Student Strike:


February 26

“As the TIC committed to full transparency, we decided to release the summary report of the meeting with the President and the Provost that took place last Friday, February 21st, 2014. The President did Not grant his approval and preferred that this report doesn’t get published. As a follow up to the first meeting, the president called for another urgent meeting today, Wednesday February 26th, 2014, to get facts and figures that prove the impossibility of freezing the increase.


March 3

Message from طلاب الامركية 

Dear AUBites,

As you all know the 48 hours ultimatum we gave for the administration to comply with our demands has passed, and the administration didn’t bother till now to give any attention to the demands drafted by the Tuition Increase Committee. In addition, the BoT meeting that was expected to be on the 4th of March was postponed for undeclared reasons.

The Tuition Increase Committee has invited all AUB students to attend a town hall meeting on Tuesday the 4th of March in Bathish Auditorium at 7:30 PM. We would like to use this opportunity that will gather all AUB students, in order to discuss and decide all together on the “appropriate measures” to take.

See you on Tuesday!

Students of the American University of Beirut


March 5

AUB Tuition Increase Committee announce a full day strike on the 11th of March 2014
(for Arabic follow the above link)

Dear AUBites

After the administration’s refusal to the formula presented by the TIC, suggesting that no negotiations can or will take place without freezing the 6% increase in tuition, students convened to an emergency and general town hall meeting on Tuesday 4/3/2014, to discuss the findings of the TIC and open floor for concerns, ideas or discussion. After the students discussed the short term committee that was presented by President Dorman in his email to the students, and the steps that need to be taken, the following decisions were agreed upon by voting (a clear show of hands) :

– Refusal of the emergency committee presented by President Dorman since it represents short term goals, and can only act as a consultant without taking part in the decision making process. It also does not have the power to freeze any present or future tuition increases.
-Announcing a full one day strike next tuesday 11/3/2014 (no one attends classes), given that the doors are open for students to help in organizing this movement.
– A series of actions/movements spread in the following two weeks, (timed strategically) before the BOT meeting on March 20.

We strongly encourage the students to take part in these movements, whether in organizing or attending, and invite all students to participate in these sit-ins and/or strike.


March 6

AUB students signing the petition against Tuition Increase. Photograph taken by What Rhymes With Ellen. More of them here.

featured


March 6

The AUB Faculty United Executive Committee has declared:

“The Executive Committee of AUB Faculty United finds no evidence for the necessity to increase student tuition and other fees, and endorses the AUB Senate recommendation to freeze all fees for the coming academic year. As such the Executive Committee supports the students’ rightful demand, and calls upon faculty members to respect students’ freedom of expression and right of assembly.”


March 7

Students at AUB carefully planned and executed a silent protest in front of Marquand House (the president’s house) at 1:00 am on Thursday 6/3/2014 prior to his flight that same day.
The students had taped their mouths with stickers that said “We Won’t Pay” as defiance to the university’s continuously increasing tuition.


March 9

Message from طلاب الامركية

Dear AUBites,

Please find below an email template that you can send to all your professors to ask for their cooperation during the strike. Please feel free to use it and send it to your professors, in order to make March 11 strike a success!

“Dear Professor …………….,

I’m writing to cordially ask you to give us the option of attending the strike on Tuesday March 11, 2014.

As students, it is very important for us to practice our right in assembly and freedom of expression, which the university acknowledges and protects in the Student Code of Conduct.

The support and cooperation you give us is highly needed and appreciated, for we will be protesting on that day not only for students’ best interest but also for its hard working faculty members, as we are all part of AUB and any financial policy that affects us as students affects you too as a faculty member.
The tuition fees have increased for over 37% in the past 3 years but that increase was not reflected in the facilities maintenance and equipment, services, salaries and benefits, departments’ budgets, and many other areas. We are still moving toward another increase, which will only add additional burden on students without being reflected anywhere as per previous experiences, unless we make our voices heard.

Your cooperation can be by providing us with a leeway as you deem necessary: not taking attendance on March 11, postponing any scheduled assignment/ class activity/ quiz/ due or even (and ideally) canceling the class on that day.

By cooperating together, we would be holding the key of our peaceful movement’s success.

Thank you in advance.

Best regards, “


March 10

A message from the BOT

To the AUB Community:

The Board of Trustees has been looking into recent issues of concern in the AUB community, and especially the matter of student tuition. Together with President Dorman, Provost Dallal and senior administration, the Trustees will continue to examine these issues of concern with an eye to how best to address them at the Board’s Annual Meeting on March 21st.

Philip S. Khoury

Chairman


March 10

Message from طلاب الامركية

VERY IMPORTANT REMINDERS:

– On the 11th of March, gatherings in front of each faculty/department building will start as of 7:30 am, to urge students and professors to boycott classes and participate in the strike’s different activities. In the gatherings, all initiatives from the societies and individual students in each department/faculty are welcomed.

– From 12:00 till 2:00 pm, a general gathering will take place at the Main Gate Plaza. It is very important for all of us to join this gathering to express our demands in acceptable and affordable education.

– During the day, all clubs are invited to participate in the strike through their own initiatives as long as it comply with AUB’s rules and regulations.

– We would like to stress that the doors are always open to every student in the university to participate in organizing the movement!

Students of the American University of Beirut


March 11

Selected photographs from today’s strike published by AUB secular club. You can view the rest of the photos on their Facebook album here. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.


March 11

Ellen Francis from WhatRhymesWithEllen Summarized the March 11 Strike in this video

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I will be updating the rest on my Twitter account on @JoeyAyoub – the struggle continues

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1 Comment

Leave a Comment

  1. If the increase of cost is partly due the the Lebanese government’s decision to tax staff scholarships and other educational benefits then it makes more sense to pass this tax for those staff benefiting from it in the 1st place rather than to students whose parents are struggling to pay their tuition fees.

    AUB student’s parent.

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