It has been brought to our attention, through informal channels, that the administration has “taken steps” to restructure the rules of student conduct regarding freedom of expression and the right to assembly. However, in keeping with tradition, the administration has approached this issue from the top down, appointing very few students to a Task Force, information about which has yet to be made public through an official statement. The administration belatedly made mention of this Task Force at a University Forum on Security, and has otherwise made no official statement that would substantiate and legitimize this project.
We are also disturbed to think that the “political” and “religious” are being defined without input from the AUC community. The current rules regarding students’ freedom of expression can be found in the Student Handbook under the title, “Unauthorized Activities” it reads:
“Students are prohibited from engaging in non-academic religious and political activities, as well as any unauthorized group formation within the university, nor should university facilities be used for those purposes. AUC encourages open study and examination of all intellectual subjects in its academic work. Both its curricula and extracurricular activities are dedicated to helping produce informed and independent minded human beings. However, as a matter of basic policy, AUC carefully refrains from involving itself in political or religious issues, as well as any group formation that may inflict psychological or physical harm on its members or any member of the AUC community. Therefore, the university does not permit its campus or facilities to be used by outsiders or by AUC personnel or students for such involvement ”
The fact that this very same administration intends to supervise any kind of transitional restructuring speaks volumes about the kind of infrastructure within which AUC students, including student government bodies, are asked to exist in. The false and imposed separatism that has constituted the identity of AUC students, their respective government bodies, the administration and the University at large is the direct result of efforts to further atomize and segregate Egyptians. The University attempts to naturalize, indeed, neuter its position in the wider public sphere of Egypt. AUC identifies itself as above and beyond all things Egyptian, insists that it is apolitical when its behavior indicates that it is precisely the product of the outgoing regime and its institutions. Separatism, paternalism and zero transparency are at the core of the charade of apoliticism.
It is a shame that the AUC has forced its students to abide by these rules for so long. That these rules should be transformed is beyond doubt. However, it is not for the administration to appoint a Task Force of select individuals to carry this out without a grassroots debate about the terms and meanings implicated in these policies.