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UJ administration questioning students over involvement in recent violence

Dozen identified so far as being involved; 14 ‘outsiders’ arrested by security agencies

By Dana Al Emam - Nov 27,2016 - Last updated at Nov 27,2016

Photo taken last Thursday and shared by the National Campaign for Defending Students’ Rights on its Facebook page show the University of Jordan campus after classes were suspended (Photo courtesy of Thabahtoona)

AMMAN — The University of Jordan (UJ) has started questioning students who took part in last week’s violence, the university’s media director, Sulaiman Farajat, said on Sunday.

UJ suspended classes on Thursday after a group of people, estimated to be around 200 individuals, stormed into campus. Some of them were carrying sticks and cleavers, according to eyewitnesses.

The university has formed two committees to look into the brawls that took place on campus on Thursday and the prior incident of violence on Tuesday in order to speed up the investigation, Farajat said.

“We do not want to rush investigations… We want to be fair in punishing students who are proven to have taken part in the incidents after taking statements and reviewing surveillance camera footage,” the UJ official told The Jordan Times over the phone, expecting the process to take around a week.

He added that the investigation committees have so far identified a dozen students who participated in the brawls, and have referred a number of outsiders, who broke into campus, to the concerned security agencies, as the university has no jurisdiction over them.

“Each type of violation has a specific penalty,” Farajat noted, expecting the suspension of some students who participated in the “sad and shameful” incidents.

Security agents, who were present at the university’s gates, have arrested 14 of the outsiders who were allegedly involved in the violence, he said.

The official highlighted that the acts of violence were carried out over regional affiliations, noting that the disagreement between the fighting groups emerged initially outside campus and online before spilling over into campus.

Students and eyewitnesses have told The Jordan Times that the violence arose out of an argument between people from Balqa and others from southern governorates.

“This is not a case of campus violence; it is rather a case of social violence among youths,” Farajat said, adding that the university’s administration, students and staff condemn such acts, especially in an academic institution.

“The university is an institution that carries a message of enlightenment and it cannot yield to suspending classes in case of mere threats… This is the university’s chance to firmly address the violations, a matter that will limit the chances for similar incidents in the future,” he concluded.   

At a meeting on Saturday, the university’s board of trustees said violators will receive “deterrent penalties” over last week’s violent incidents, highlighting a need to implement penalties without any “leniency or interventions” from any tribal or social entities.

Also on Saturday, the Higher Education Council denounced the violent events.

The council instructed the UJ administration to take strict measures against every student involved in the violent acts according to its regulations.

The council also highlighted the importance of collaborating with security forces to legally pursue all those involved in violent acts.

On Sunday, Senate President Faisal Fayez reiterated the importance of taking all deterrent procedures and abiding by the law to hold accountable all those who participated in the brawl, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Chairing a meeting of the Senate’s education committee to discuss the issue, Fayez called for repositioning security forces at the entrances of the university to maintain security, without interfering in the educational process on campus.

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