Fall 2006 Vol. V, No. 1
Jean- Marie Cook
When disaster struck, AUB reached out to the community. But what happened on the campus itself during the 34-day war? The first hurdle occurred July 12, when AUBs smoothly running summer session was abruptly interrupted by the Israeli bombardment and subsequent closing of the Rafic Hariri International Airport.
AUB moved efficiently into crisis mode to secure the safety of students,
faculty, and staff; to keep the University as operational as possible;
to ensure a continuing supply of fuel, electricity, water, and necessary
supplies; and to organize aid teams and projects. By the weekend severely
damaged bridges and highways were preventing many students, faculty, and
staff from reaching the University. On July 16 the University announced
the suspension of all summer school classes until further notice and the
cancellation of the CAMES (Center for Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies)
summer Arabic program. The hospital would remain open and completely functional
throughout the war.
the Old Out-Patient Building, and Building 56 came largely to a halt. Vice
President Samir Maamari, then director of the Facilities Planning and Design
Unit, reported the shutdown of construction on eight building projects and
five small renovation and infrastructure jobs. The new Scientific Research
Building, located near the womens dorms on lower campus, was within
one week of completion, when the war broke out and prevented the delivery
of lab furniture. Five proto-type classrooms in the rear of Nicely Hall,
designed to introduce the latest classroom technology (flexible seating,
moveable chairs, special lighting and projection facilities, wireless connections)
to students and faculty were almost ready for testing when the violence
began. Day laborers, many from Syria, streamed out of the country. Skilled
laborers, technical managers of the construction workers, left their jobs.
Contractors material shipments were returned or rerouted to Italy,
Cyprus, and Turkey, meaning additional cost to the University, which will
have to reimburse the contractors for these expenses. Landscaping in front
of the hospitals emergency room ground to a halt. Bids and awarding
of contracts also ended. Maamari, who is refreshingly optimistic, urges
patience and understanding. We have had a major hit, but we will be
going forward with the job in the shortest and most economical way possible.
Another victim of the Israeli invasion was the AUB beach, polluted by the massive oil spill from the Jiyyeh power plant, hit on July 13. Black tar soiled the rocks. The AUB beach had already closed a few days into the war, but it remained closed because of a Ministry of the Environment order against swimming in the sea and the risk of contamination from possible carcinogens in the fuel oil. Azmi Imad, head of EHSRM (Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management) has asked the ministry to include the AUB beach in their internationally funded $150 million clean-up program. Although he hopes that students will volunteer to help, he points out that this kind of clean-up needs special equipment and chemicals. He hopes that if the beach is cleaned this winter, it will be ready to open in the summer of 2007.
In a message sent to the AUB community on July 24, President Waterbury concluded, As you go forward in these difficult days and weeks, remember the 140 years of this institutions history. AUB has known many hard times including several episodes of famine and civil strife. We have always survived and come back stronger. This time will be no exception."
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