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    Posted September 16, 2012 by
    Cairo, Egypt
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Protests in Egypt: Your experiences

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    American University in Cairo Shut Down Amidst Protests


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ZingTao is currently studying abroad in Egypt at the American University in Cairo. He says on September 16 the University was shut down due to students protesting in front of the school. The students were protesting against rising tuition costs, decreasing scholarships and the poor treatment of university workers. He says it is possible that the student protests stemmed from the protests against the anti-Islamic film, which led to massive protests across the Arab world earlier in the week. He says he was taken aback when he saw that his university's campus was closed due to the protesting. '[The protesters] were very well organized, but I did not have an opinion one way or the other,' he said.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    The American University in Cairo was shut down early Sunday morning by university students protesting rising costs and the impending withdrawal of student scholarships, amongst other grievances.

    Early student commuters were stunned to find all access points to the New Cairo campus blocked off by organized protestors and cars. These protests follow those outside the American Embassy and throughout downtown Cairo over the last four days, but do not appear to be anti-American in nature.

    The American University in Cairo's (AUC) New Cairo campus is located approximately 40 kilometers east of downtown Cairo and Tahrir Square. New Cairo is a rather undeveloped, but quickly expanding, area of Egypt on the outskirts of the city. Consequently, the vast majority of students take the University bus system or their own personal transportation to arrive to school.

    Yet the third week of classes began differently than the previous two. Even before arriving at the main gate, the first AUC commuter bus from the Zamalek neighborhood was boarded by a leading protestor, an unidentified senior at the University majoring in Political Science at approximately 7:30 A.M. local time. He proclaimed that, "he and his 100 men have closed the campus," and that students would have to run over them to get inside.

    Attempts to skirt the main gate were to no avail. Each gate leading into the University had protestors and cars blocking the entry driveways. While students were not permitted inside, protestors slowly let administrators and faculty inside with proper identification through the main gate only. But by 9:00 A.M., protestors closed the gates completely and locked them from the inside, permitting only fellow protestors from moving in or out.

    The majority of protestors were there to halt rising tuition charges and related fees at the University, set to increase by 7% until 2015. The protestors also sought a tuition cap for all students.

    Protestors often targeted AUC President Lisa Anderson by name, holding her responsible for their grievances

    "Fees are going to be up so high...nobody could be able to pay these fees," said one protestor. "And we're not receiving the quality of education...that covers up for the fees we pay." He went on to say, "we're just doing this because we've tried basically every legal civilized way with Dr. Lisa through meetings, conferences, debates, everything."

    "It's a life or death situation for us."

    From atop car roofs, protestors instructed students to move toward the gates and support the movement, or return home. Security stood by idle, not appearing to take one side versus the other.

    AUC e-mailed the student body three hours after the protests began saying, "The attempt to close the campus is in direct violation of University policy and will not be tolerated" and that "swift action will be taken against all perpetrators." It remains to be seen what action that will be.

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