Hassan Harb: the Activist, the Scholar, LAU’s Pride

(Mohamad J Hodeib)

Hassan Harb was suspended from LAU on Monday the 7th of October, 2013, on the basis of his involvement in Stop Tuition Fee Increase in LAU campaign (LAU_STFI).

The campaign was a collective campaign launched by students affiliated with the Alternative Student Movement (ASM), the grassroots independent student movement, and other independent student groups active in LAU. Harb, who at the time was the president of the student council, was advocating a student petition against the tuition fees increase in university. He attempted to encourage students to boycott their classes and attend the protest on campus through delivering a speech inside Nicol Hall to students who were heading to their classes. Other students were suspended from university alongside Harb, but under media pressure and university protocol they were granted permission to resume their scholar year, unlike Harb, who had graduated the past spring and “had no more business in LAU.”

Harb graduated from LAU in spring 2013 with a BS in Chemistry.

During his stay at LAU, he was actively engaged in ASM since its early manifestations. As the movement peaked in 2012, Harb spearheaded the Take Back LAU Council campaign for the annual Campus Student Council (CSC) elections, where he was voted a student representative in the School of Arts & Sciences and president of the council. “The campaign’s success was an achievement for the independent secular student front in LAU, and led to the establishment of the Alternative Student Movement,” said Walid Slika, LAU Alumni and Vice Chair of ASM.

During his tenure as president, Harb advocated a reformist agenda, continuously urging the council to meet and discuss issues like the increase in tuition fees. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, Harb launched a student petition to reform LAU’s tuition fee increase policy from within the council. Despite his graduation the year before, his dedication to the student cause went as far as disruption of classes and subsequent suspension.

Harb could only step back into LAU in May 2014, when the administration realized that he was tutoring LAU students who could not afford private tutoring free of charge. With the support from a former chemistry professor in LAU, Harb walked into LAU’s campus for the first time since the STFI campaign on the 7th of June 2014.

“We were all subjected to so much pressure, we felt like it was us against the world, but there was no alternative for the struggle,” said Harb in retrospect. “LAU was an incubator for student interaction, and I cannot deny how constructively it had contributed to my personal and professional development.”

On 31 July, Harb published his first essay in the Inorganic Chemistry Journal in the American Chemical Society Publications. The paper was co-authored with Professor Faraj Hasanayn (PhD) from the American University of AUB (AUB) where Harb is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Inorganic Chemistry.

I remember the first time I met Hassan, in 2010, as we discussed possibilities of winning elections in LAU, but only in vain. I remember seeing Hassan again after my graduation in 2012, but at the time he had become the president of the Student Council and one of the founding members of ASM. A rising scholar and a dedicated activist, he is a symbol of resilience against a defeatist culture.

To me, Hassan is more than a friend; he is a live manifestation of a student who would not settle for less than excellence. He is a source of pride for the student movement, and for LAU.

Click on this link to preview a free copy of Harb’s paper

Published in Mish Jareedi August/September 2014 Printed Edition –click here to view original publication

hassan harb

Mohamad J Hodeib (left) and Hassan Harb (right) during Student March against parliamentary extension, Beirut, August 2014

2 responses to “Hassan Harb: the Activist, the Scholar, LAU’s Pride

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