September 22, 2012
Dear AUC Community,
I write to inform you that after several intensive rounds of negotiations with representatives of the protesting students over the past several days, unfortunately we have reached a standoff.
During the discussions, much progress was made. We agreed to develop several models of tuition increases that will be designed to give greater clarity and predictability to families; these will be available for community discussion by November 15. This includes modeling tuition increases that may be lower than the 7% that is currently in our planning parameters for the coming years.
We reminded the students that more than 60% of our current students receive some form of financial aid and that all students whose families are facing difficulties paying tuition should apply for financial aid; we are committed to ensuring that no students enrolled at AUC will be unable to complete their studies for financial reasons.
Similarly, we reiterated our commitment to observe the established procedures for independent reviews of disciplinary cases that have been brought against students who violate University policy. We agreed to work with students and faculty to intensify our focus on the quality of all of AUC’s educational programs.
Regrettably, however, the students insisted on demanding the cancellation of the 7% annual increase for this year that was announced last spring. As we have said from the outset, we developed this year’s budget relying on that income to pay for our expenses, including salaries, utilities and other essential services; we cannot operate the University without the predicted revenues. Obviously, for next year’s budget, which we are preparing this fall, we have much more room for maneuver and welcome ideas about how to match revenues and expenses so as to lessen reliance on further tuition increases.
Today we removed the gates in two of the entrances to the campus; the students’ closure of all access to the campus had created a serious hazard, preventing access by emergency vehicles, including fire trucks and ambulances. We have assigned extra security officers to those entrances to ensure that no intruders make their way onto campus through these entrances.
Tomorrow the University will be open. The protesting students may continue to try to prevent access through some or all of the gates; this action is a violation of both University policy and of Egyptian law. Moreover, the educational mission of the University cannot be further compromised.
We expect that there may be some disruptions in the morning and ask that all those coming to the campus be patient and alert; we will be providing guidance about traffic patterns in access to the campus in the morning, so please be prepared to check for email and SMS messages.
This is a disappointing turn of events, particularly since so much was accomplished in our discussions with the students, but we now need the support of the entire AUC community to help us ensure that we resume normal operations and thereby fulfill our mission to be of service to Egypt.
The American University in Cairo