BU students evacuate Egypt, escape turmoil

Courtesy Photo
The Woodlands senior Matt Royall studied abroad in Cairo in spring 2010. Two Baylor students studying in Egypt this semester left the country as a result of the political unrest that has gripped the nation.

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

The two Baylor students participating in a study abroad program at American University in Cairo have left Egypt because of its political unrest and are now waiting to see how the situation unfolds before making further plans.

“Baylor has been monitoring the situation in Egypt for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been in close contact really over the past several days with those two students and also with their families,” Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, said. “After discussing the situation in Egypt with their families and with Baylor officials, both students decided to leave the country.”

Baylor media relations would not release the names of the two students out of concern for their privacy.

Both students left Egypt on Tuesday, one for Kenya and one for Dubai, to meet family or family friends at their respective destinations. Fogleman said the university has received confirmation that both students arrived safely.

The students’ academic situation remains uncertain. American University has halted classes until Feb. 13.

“We’re having to watch the situation play out, but we’ve also been in communication with the students about if and when they’ll be able to safely return to Cairo so they can continue their studies there at American University,” Fogleman said. “If it’s not clear within two weeks, we’ll assist them in their return to the United States and we’ll work with them about how to handle credit for the academic semester. But that still remains to be seen — it’s such a fluid situation right now.”

In the meantime, university officials will remain in contact with the students and their families, Fogleman said.

Confronted by scenes of bloody chaos in Cairo, the White House on Wednesday challenged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to show the world “exactly who he is” by quickly leading a peaceful transition to democracy.

Dr. Mark Long, program director for the American University in Cairo program and associate professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, said he hopes the students are able to return to Cairo.

“I hope that there’s a peaceful transition to a truly democratic form of government, one that embraces constitutional liberalism, and that it’s possible to send students back,” Long said. “As long as it’s not resolved, we wouldn’t send students.”

The Woodlands senior Matt Royall attended the Cairo program during the Spring 2010 semester. Although he said it was too soon then to see indicators of the political revolution that is occurring now, Royall did notice a divide between the Egyptian government and its citizens.

“There was a definite disconnect between the government and the people, and that was always very obvious. And with the people there was never any sort of open protest or open disagreement with the government,” Royall said. “The second thing, too, that I noticed is just a huge income disparity there like no place I’ve ever seen. You have very wealthy people … and then something like 50 percent living in extreme poverty, and they live right next to each other.”

Royall said he is glad he had opportunities to travel safely around the country.

“It has so much history and has so many things to offer tourists,” Royall said, “so I feel bad for the people who went there expecting that and unfortunately aren’t going to be able to experience it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.