I think it's because of the corrupt system everywhere, or in the case of the American University in Cairo, since I have no evidence of corruption, I would refer to it as bureaucracy. I wanted to talk to my professor before I wrote this but I cannot reach him.
So, this is entirely based on tweets I have read, and things the warman has told me earlier this month.
Money flows constantly and tremendously into the AUC bank accounts. The simplist example would be tution fees (2010/2011) per credit hour;
- 1st level Egyptian undergraduate student = 2830 EGP
- 2nd level Egyptian undergraduate Student = 4039 EGP
- 1st level International undergraduate student = $599
- 2nd level international undergraduate student = $855
- Egyptian graduate student = 2830 EGp
- Egyptian LLM/MBA student = 3312 EGP
- International graduate student = $855
- Egyptian non-degree student = 4039 EGP
- International non-degree student = $855
I know I haven’t made my point yet but I just needed to set things straight first. That this is as much money they make, disregarding the AUC Press, the bookstore, the donations, USAID and so on.
Blue collar workers in AUC receive a net salary of a bit over 600 Egyptian pounds. And the average AUC student spends at least as much on campus in a month. But the mere fact that they belong to two very different socioeconomic backgrounds and groups does not mean that the workers should be that ill-treated. One could argue that government workers receive around the same amount of money monthly, but one could also argue that workers in the government benefit from informal redistributive methods in addition to occasional bonuses. Let alone that government resources are “limited” and “very thinly spread/diluted” (not that I necessarily agree)
I know of one labor economics professor who has sent her students to do some fieldwork with the workers and make them aware of their conditions. There came a point when they had no contracts, eventually, more students were aware of the workers’ state and work conditions, let alone the workers themselves.
They would calculate costs of living of which their salaries were but a fraction. Yesterday the demonstration and strike started. The workers have stopped cleaning the campus, and students are sitting in. The workers' demands are posted here. AUC workers were promised a 5% raise this year, a promise that was never fulfilled, and the sad thing is, with too much bureaucracy, if a change is to result from such pressure being exerted on the university, nothing is to happen before September of 2011.
As I write this, 10 representatives are on their way, or are actually in a meeting with AUC Vice President for Planning and Administration Brian MacDougall
Links to photos: here. here. here
It is also worth mentioning that students are supported by professors and administrators. Some, that is, and not all, the sad thing is that some students are actually opposing the demos.