Students march on-campus in reflection of Egyptian protest

Chants of “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Hosni Mubarak’s got to go” could be heard ringing through the air Wednesday as a parade of protesters made their way from the Library to the Marshall Student Center and back.

About 30 people joined in the march for support of Egyptian protesters who have called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation since January.

Neveen Nawawy stood by fellow students of the Arab Cultural Association (ACA) as they marched through campus in rows of four..

Nawawy, a junior majoring in political science and international studies, stood at the lead, holding the Egyptian flag.

“Everybody’s been waiting for democracy,” she said. “People are not swayed. They’re not for the Muslim Brotherhood, they’re not for anything in particular. This is the people’s revolt. They want democracy.”

The protest, organized by the ACA, came as a reaction to the Egyptians who flooded Tahrir Square in Cairo in January, demanding that Mubarak step down from the position he’s held for more than 30 years before the presidential elections in September.

Though leading members of opposition groups have agreed to meet with Mubarak’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, to discuss potential changes to the Egyptian government and a more gradual removal from office, many still vehemently oppose the president, who has been criticized for not addressing Egypt’s poor economic condition.

Nawawy said the majority of her father’s family currently live in Cairo, yet they could not get involved in the protests because her father’s cousin works for the Egyptian government.

Supporters on campus wore matching red T-shirts from the ACA that read, “I support revolutions for democracy” and attracted outsiders to join in the march.

“It was more of a reactionary event,” said Haneen Abuqalbeen, a senior majoring in international studies and president of ACA. “We didn’t really have the funds, but we saw there was more of a need for this. You don’t see a lot of support on campus for political movements and revolution.”

Abuqalbeen said the ACA used funds to help with the march that were originally set aside for other events.

Though the event was not heavily advertised, most of the promoting was done through its Facebook page, much in the way that the protests in Tahrir Square have been organized.

Pamela Gomez, a senior majoring in sociology, attended the protest after coming across the event’s Facebook page.

“Even though I’m not from the Arab community, I’m aware of what’s going on,” she said. “Being Hispanic, I feel the need to be here and stand for solidarity. The Egyptians have a right to democracy and who represents them.”

Aziz Talbani, director of Multicultural Affairs, walked with campus protesters and said students have much to learn from the those in Cairo.

“It shows the level of intelligence, maturity and leadership of these young people,” he said. “Grassroots movements are important. We have lots of grassroots institutions in this country. They are a necessary part of our civil society. They protect our human rights.”

Talbani said he believes further awareness is needed at USF.

“(People) need to educate themselves about world affairs,” Talbani said. “In this country, we think if someone allies with us, they are good guys. Some are not only democratic, they are dictatorships. It’s not good for the U.S., either, (to depend on these relationships).”

Talbani said the U.S. should focus on building relations with democratic governments, instead of with the dictatorships it frowns upon.

Nawawy said she hopes the Egypt protests come to an end soon.

“People deserve to have their voices represented in government,” she said.