Boldly GAUB's response to administration intimidation

Boldly G-AUB

Update on Recent Events

November 23, 2017

Before turning to the events of the last few days, Boldly G-AUB wishes to reiterate that the tent protest was not a sudden development, but the culmination of months of organization, action, and negotiation in response to the Administration's unilateral decision to cancel GA stipends without warning or even official notification. During these negotiations, we researched, drafted, and submitted a proposal for a fair and equitable GA policy, and decided to open the tent only after receiving a thoroughly disappointing policy proposal from the Associate Provost on November 9, to which we provided thorough and constructive feedback within a week.

Throughout the first week of the tent protest, we never received any formal or informal warnings, nor any threats of serious disciplinary measures. As recently as Thursday, November 15, the Associate Provost invited us to a meeting, which took place the following day and was, from our perspective, quite productive. Clearly, this is directly contrary to the Dean of Student Affairs’ email to the AUB community on Tuesday, November 21 which falsely states that we received numerous warnings throughout the previous week.

For these reasons, the Administration’s reaction on Monday—a mere two business days after we met with the Associate Provost—was extremely surprising to us. Shortly before noon, we received an email from the Associate Provost excluding us from future negotiations, despite naming us as a “key constituent” in his November 9 policy proposal. This was followed by our first and only warning to remove the tent, within a 90-minute deadline, sent by the Dean of Student Affairs with a threat of unspecified “serious disciplinary measures.”

Without sufficient time to discuss the warning, those present at the tent decided to remain open. By that evening, six students had received Dean’s Warnings, which included the loss of GA funding for next semester, and by the following morning, a further seven students received identical warnings (bringing the total to 13). We consider that the Administration has financially targeted students who were peacefully protesting financial matters—a very severe and sudden measure. We have very strong reason to believe that these warnings were issued in violation of University policy, which is to say nothing of the recent precedent of the use of tents in student protests that never elicited such a punitive and draconian response.

To underscore the arbitrary nature of these Dean’s Warnings, we note that three students were not present at the tent that day—indeed, one was not even in the country—yet all students were punished for their failure to remove the tent. Moreover, every warning included the “loss of GAship,” despite the fact that three students did not even hold GA positions. It appears that the Administration did not even take into account the personal circumstances of the students it was punishing. This move is a disproportionate exercise of power and a tactic of intimidation designed to silence vocal students, which directly contradicts the supposed values of the University.

During the evening of Monday, November 20, the Administration ordered campus security to wait until the tent was most vulnerable, occupied by two female students at 12:30am, to lock down the campus and forcibly remove the tent, which we consider a particularly cowardly move since it prevented students from helping. Moreover, we understand that the campus can only be locked down in the event of a security threat, a grossly inaccurate description of our tent at 12:30am.

As you are likely aware, a peaceful and large-scale demonstration followed on Tuesday, November 21, which received international media coverage in print and on broadcast television in English, Arabic, and French, including major higher education publications.

We urge the University’s academic departments, student representative groups, Faculty United, the University Senate, and all other University bodies to demand the immediate revocation of these Dean’s Warnings and the right for Boldly G-AUB to continue negotiating for a fair and equitable GA policy—in addition to supporting our modest demands:

1. Monthly stipends indexed to the concrete cost of living in Beirut (a minimum of $400, the lowest estimate available, far lower than the University’s own estimates);

2. Two-year GA contracts, rather than semester-to-semester (subject to the regular performance criteria);

and 3. The waiver of University fees for GA students, amounting to almost $400 every semester (including Technology, Health Insurance, and Social Activity fees).

Please express your support for the above in an email to the President, shared with Boldly G-AUB (boldlygaub@gmail.com), and in a public statement.

Sincerely,

Boldly G-AUB.