By Reem Tombokti.
Tripoli, 2 June 2013:
Tripoli University Students Union tonight . . .[restrict]said it is postponing a strike called for tomorrow to protest a collapse in security on the campus and the assault of a female engineering undergraduate.
News of the suspension of the action, published on the student union’s Facebook page, came in response to the government’s announcement earlier today that it was assigning a kateeba to be responsible for campus security.
The students warned however that if university security does not improve within ten days, the strike will still go ahead.
The student leader at the engineering faculty, Hafeth El-Qabroon, told the Libya Herald that the last straw had been an assault of one of the students while she was waiting for her father to pick her up inside campus. Faculty students picketed the Dean’s office to protest.
Qabroon said that the old university guards are not armed. They have been attacked on more than one occasion with light weapons. Since then only few of them are still doing their job. However, the Ministry of Interior had, for a brief period, provided the university with armed personnel to establish a sense of security for students and staff.
“The university is a part of a country where chaos is everywhere.” said Mohamed Naas, an electrical engineering student, “It is expected that the university campuses are not secure.” He added that those behind most of the security breaches are people from inside the university.
Other undergraduates reported that some students “came to university carrying their pistols with them.”
“We are not satisfied with the security situation in our universities right now,” Mohamed Hasan Abu-Bakr, Minister of Higher Education, admitted to the Libya Herald last week. “We are trying to take all necessary measures to have more control over it. We contacted the Ministry of Interior more than once to provide guard for universities campuses all around Libya.”
“We tried to reactivate the previous university guards body, to put an end to these security threats, but they were not armed and given that there are many weapons on Libyan streets, the reactivation failed.”
Abu-Bakr continued: “So we are thinking of establishing a Universities’ Facilities Guard body, similar to that of the Petroleum Facilities Guard.”
At the time, the Minister also mentioned that his ministry might contact the Ministry of Defence to provide students with security at least around the outside gates of campuses.
Some students are likely to be relieved that the planned strike has been postponed for at least ten days. They had complained to the students union that the timing of the action clashed with their mid-term exams. [/restrict]