Twenty-five days into an open-ended sit-in, students at Tafileh University are continuing to press for free education, a demand the university administration says it cannot possibly meet.
Students at the southern university started a sit-in last month to demand several quality-of-life improvements to their campus in addition to free education for all, according to their representative, Majdi Faraheed.
He noted that although some of their lesser demands, which included better facilities on campus such as a cafeteria and benches, were met, “we still want free education for all”.
The Ahrar Tafileh Committee, which is composed of students, members of the local community and political party representatives, seconded Faraheed, saying they support the students’ call for free education, despite the university’s efforts to meet their other demands.
“The university administration was doing its best, but the major demand should be met so that students end their strike,” Saed Oran, the committee’s spokesperson, told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
Yaqoub Masaafeh, the university’s president, said the administration is not authorised to provide free-of-charge education to all students.
“Students are refusing to discuss this issue with the administration and they tried to prevent me from entering the university until their demand is met,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
Masaafeh noted that the Ministry of Higher Education allocated JD1.7 million to the university this month to improve its major facilities in accordance with the students’ wishes.
“We prepared a work plan and discussed it with the students, but they rejected it because it indicates nothing about implementing a free education plan,” he said, adding that he was attacked by some students while entering the university on Tuesday.
Both Masaafeh and four of the protesting students filed lawsuits on Wednesday, each claiming to have been assaulted by the other party.
Asked whether the university intends to take disciplinary action against the students who are breaking the law, Masaafeh said: “We want to give them a chance to restudy the situation and their demands.”
Minister of Higher Education Rowaida Maaitah late Wednesday told The Jordan Times that a committee was formed to look into the issue.
Also yesterday, the university’s board of trustees appointed two deputy presidents, Ahmad Zagaleil and Najeeb Abu Karaki, the Jordan News Agency, Petra reported, quoting Anwar Batikhi, the board president.