Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thesis progress has come at the expense of regular blogging, but I though I'd check in. A new print edition of AUC's Caravan is out, slightly better than the last. Their feature is an attempt at investigative journalism that reveals that several of the donors who have departments and rooms named in their honor may not be the most ethically upstanding. They took issue with a room being dedicated to the memory of Dr Mine Ener.
Ener was a professor at Villanova University and author of Managing Egypt's Poor and the Politics of Benevolence, 1890-1952. In 2003, Ener gave birth to a baby girl with Down's syndrome a fact that appeared to have caused Ener to sink further into postpartum depression. Tragedy struck when, gripped by mental illness, Ener killed her child and later, after being incarcerated, committed suicide. Villanova took down a plaque erected to her memory and instead held a symposium on postpartum depression and psychosis to memorialize her. The Caravan's choice of title for the story, "This Room is Dedicated to a Murderer. Who Else Has AUC Accepted Money From?" is sensational and doesn't take it account the role mental illness played. I won't add further commentary to the sanity and misdeeds of others whom the named spaces honor, but you can checked them out and draw your own conclusions.
Other topics covered in the Caravan included an article and a cartoon about the challenges faced by female students interested in student body politics. Charming quotes like "girls are unable to handle the kind of commitment and campaigning it takes to win a competitive election" and alleged threats to the reputations of women who decide to run for office come from male students, showing that for all it's progressive shine, the situation at AUC smacks of the rest of Egypt's pervasive sexism. The Muslim Brotherhood offer us another example, promising to suspend members who requested positions for women in the party's guidance bureau. "Not all jobs are appropriate for women," wisely asserts a member. This of course is not to suggest that the rough gender equality in the US is anything close to perfect.
The online version of the student paper euphemistically refers to the strongly possible canceling of post-'Aid classes as another "H1N1 Break". According to NPR, Egypt's PM has already declared that the four-day 'Aid al-Adha vacation will be extended a further six days for all government-run schools and universities. It's only a matter of time before they demand AUC shutter for this second "swine flu" vacay. The logic for such a class suspension escapes me, yet again.

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