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AUB letter sheds little light on tuition issue


BEIRUT: A much-anticipated letter from the chairman of the AUB Board of Trustees sheds little light on the proposed tuition increases that have riled students and sparked protests.

Some students denounced the letter from Chairman Philip Khoury as vague and opaque. While it outlined topics discussed at last week’s meetings, it contained few hints about the proposed budget for next year.

“The budget presented to the Board for final approval in May … will strike an appropriate balance that is at once fiscally responsible and also sensitive to students and working families who are struggling in this difficult economy,” Khoury’s statement reads. “These dual concerns are of paramount importance.”

Students have expressed frustration with the administration’s handling of the budget, threatening to strike if the Board of Trustees approves proposed tuition increases.

Student leaders decried Khoury’s statement as vague and inconclusive. “It really doesn’t set any concrete conclusions,” said Tala Kammourieh, a member of the student government. “This letter is not enough.”

“It was really diplomatic and vague, and I don’t think this is enough for our situation,” agreed Jinane Abi Ramia, another student leader. “They didn’t give us answers. … We need more.”

With no word on whether tuition will in fact increase next year, student activists can do little but wait for the budget announcement in May.

The letter calls for cooperation between students, faculty and administration based on “mutual trust,” warning that “any other approach will lead to the most serious consequences.”

Students have also demanded transparency, an issue Khoury addressed. “The Board instructed the administration to continue efforts to bring further clarity to administrative issues. … We strongly encourage more timely and frequent dialogue with the university community.”

The lack of particulars in Khoury’s letter, however, has left students questioning whether the board is committed to transparency.

“It’s frustrating. The highest decision making board is being as opaque … as the administration itself,” Kammourieh told The Daily Star. “It’s somewhat disrespectful for us.”

In the statement, Khoury reiterated the board’s support for the university administration. “It is reassuring to the board that the institution’s leadership is so firmly committed to advancing AUB’s mission and values,” the statement said.

Peter Dorman, president of the university, has insisted that a tuition increase is necessary.

By Elise Knutsen The Daily Star

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