I greatly appreciate the outpouring of concern that hit both my comment box and my inbox after I posted my last entry. Unfortunately, besides being made aware of the situation, there isn’t much that I believe that American University can do to solve our problems. We are directly enrolled in the American University in Cairo as non-degree seeking students. In study abroad lingo that’s called a partner program, one in which student’s home institutions send them abroad to other institutions without directly managing the program. AU pays our tuition to AUC and provides us with a study abroad advisor, but they have no other control over our study abroad experience.

Several days ago a ten-page petition circulated among the international students, regarding issues of sexual harassment and also the problems posed by the pre-mature move to the new campus in New Cairo. The petition contained some exaggerated claims but presented an overall picture of the problems that international students have been experiencing. Kelly and I forwarded the petition to the study abroad office at AU to make them aware of the situation before the deadline for Spring semester study abroad passed, to allow students who had applied to go to AUC in February the opportunity to go elsewhere. This was absolutely the first time that American University was made aware of our difficulties.

They sent a very prompt response to let us know that AU’s director was in contact with AUC’s administration to express concern, and that our study abroad advisor would be arriving in Cairo on October 7 to view the new campus. We will have the opportunity to meet with her while she is here.

My parents forwarded the contents of my blog post to the Study Abroad advisor and the director of the Study Abroad program at American University. They are aware of what’s going on and reported that AUC claims that only one complaint of sexual harassment has been formally received. Clearly whoever responded to the director is not in contact with the International Student Affairs Office or the Office of Residential Life, or any of the Residence Directors.

AUC has given us an option in response to complaints received: we have the opportunity to withdraw from housing, to pay on a pro-rated basis for the housing we’ve received, and find our own apartments. We would lose our housing deposit of $300 and also have to pay $300 for a bus pass.

Frankly, I don’t consider that a fair response.

My intention in posting my last entry was not to cause problems for AU’s study abroad office or to upset my family and friends, but rather to express that my cultural experience in Egypt is being greatly affected by AUC’s poor housing decision.

If you feel the need to express any further concern, please address it to the American University in Cairo.

President David Arnold: president@aucegypt.edu

International Student Affairs Office: isa@aucegypt.edu

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