The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) has filed a lawsuit against Alexandria University for refusing to fulfil a student’s request for information.
After the university refused to provide information breaking down increased accommodation fees, literature student Enas Dawood complained to the AFTE at a workshop titled The Right to Knowledge.
Ahmed Hassanein, a student affairs employee at Alexandria University, said fees for some students’ accommodation had increased 10 fold over the last two years; from EGP150 in 2011 to EGP750-900 in 2012, and finally to EGP 1500 this year.
Hassan Azhary, the lawyer bringing the case, said: “According to article 47 of the constitution, any person has the right to obtain information on any governmental institution, as long as it doesn’t harm national security.”
“You can’t ask for money and not say where it’s going,” Azhary said. “When people ask for more information on where their money goes, no one answers.”
Said Azhary: “When Dawood asked the university where her money was being spent, they told her on food. When she asked them if she could pay for accommodation without food, the university told her that they operate on a supply and demand basis and that if she didn’t like it she could leave”
However according to Azhary, as a single woman living alone, the university housing offers Dawood security and a community that isn’t available off campus.
Azhary claimed that corruption was behind the fee increases.
He said there is a specific fund for Alexandria University’s on-campus accommodation and that this fund, like others is monitored by the Central Bank of Egypt and the Central Auditing Organization.
“We’re not required to win this case,” Azhary said, “but we want to know that the money is being used to expose corruption.”
The manager of lawsuits at Alexandria University, Saad Aly, said they have not been notified of the case.
Alexandria University’s Public Affairs Manager Habiba Mahmood denied that the price of accommodation had gone up, stating that it actually went down after the revolution. She claimed students wouldn’t have stayed quiet had the prices actually gone up.
Hassanein however confirmed the increase in fees.
Alexandria University administration faced problems with its students earlier this year when they protested to demand higher educational standards.
The AFTE is a non-governmental organisation that advocates for freedom of thought and expression. The Right to Knowledge programme focuses on the right of citizens to access information.