"In the context of the unfolding political events we, a group of AUB faculty members, are calling for a strike," a group of educators from Lebanon's top university wrote in a joint statement on Tuesday.
This came after the university's president Fadlo Khuri announced a day prior that the university will reopen on Oct. 23 and maintained the same stance despite ongoing demonstrations in the country. But AUB educators and students did not let that decision last for long.
On Tuesday, several faculty members began sending out emails to their students, informing them that despite AUB's decision, they won't be holding classes for their students.
"We cannot go back and teach our regular syllabi when the streets are the prime sites for learning," the joint statement read.
"The streets are a classroom and the classroom is on the streets."
One professor even asked his students to meet at The Dome (aka The Egg) for a discussion on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, AUB students went down to Bliss Street to protest the institution's decision to go back to "business as usual." The demonstrations first began in front of the university's main gate. Protesters then headed to the beginning of the street and blocked its entry, Nour Zahabi, one of the protesters, told StepFeed.
"When I arrived there, streets were already blocked by garbage bins, some students were standing on them and others in front of them. By the time I arrived, they had already talked to President Fadlo Khuri and didn't get what they wanted, which explains why they were on the streets," Rim Armouch, another protester, told StepFeed.
The 21-year-old graphic design student explained that at some point, Talal Nizameddin, Dean of Student Affairs, approached the students and asked them to open the road and move the protest to other locations. According to her, they did not budge. The students remained in their places until they received a message from the president minutes after 9 p.m.
"We are committed to both educating our students and supporting their sincere commitment to build a better tomorrow for themselves and for Lebanon. As such, we will cancel classes for tomorrow (Wednesday) while keeping AUB open for all members of our community who need to work or study on campus at their convenience," AUB President wrote in email following the demonstrations.
Students didn't leave immediately after the announcement. They did, however, receive some complaints from neighboring hospitals for being too loud.
"We sat down on the floor and decided to have a silent protest," Armouch said.
"It was exactly the same as what we were doing on Riad El Solh, except on Bliss," Zahabi told StepFeed in the aftermath of the protests.
The 21-year-old student explained that her protesting is part of a much bigger picture. As a last year student, Zahabi is getting mentally ready to leave the country because she knows the country lacks employment opportunities for young graduates.
"There's no way I'm going to find a job here and if I do, it won't be well-paid," she said before talking about the major disparity that exists between the country's elites and those of the lower socioeconomic class. In Lebanon, over 1.5 million people live below the poverty line.
"We deserve to stay in this country and to work here and invest our time and money here. But, the country isn't giving us the chance to do that," she added.
The recent protests have seen people demand concrete change. The only "reform plan" people are willing to accept is one that is led by a new and freely-elected government that will implement clear laws and hold corrupt officials accountable for their crimes. As protests enter their seventh day, demonstrators show no signs of backing down on this demand.
On Wednesday, AUB sent out another email to all students, informing them that all AUB classes are "suspended until further notice."
It seems as though AUB students and faculty members achieved what they wanted from the start — the freedom to protest for their rights not at the cost of their education but in line with it.
"If you come to class instead of protesting to save your country and your future, then I know I failed to teach you anything of real importance," one professor told students prior to the cancelation of all classes.
"This doesn't stop here though"
Some professors are concerned over the latest army-protester clash
On Wednesday morning, the Lebanese Army forcibly opened a highway connecting north Lebanon to Beirut after protesters blocked. A similar incident happened on the coastal highway near Nahr el-Kalb and Saida.
Since Thursday, protesters have been blocking roads with burning tires and makeshift barricades in an attempt to draw attention to the country's corrupt ruling class and create a general state of paralysis. While the movement has been widely peaceful and even festive at times, it has witnessed a few clashes between protesters and security personnel, particularly on Friday evening. Protesters were targeted with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, and many unarmed individuals have reported being arbitrarily beaten up and arrested by police and Lebanese Army personnel.