A demonstration at Azad University of Dolatabad in Ispahan on November 16th.
Co-education is on the way to becoming banned in many Iranian universities. Students at a university where a ban is already in place are fighting to try to get the authorities to go back on their decision.
Last summer, the Assembly of Experts, an ultra-conservative religious body, recommended that co-education be banned in Iranian universities. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tried to block this initiative, describing it as “superficial” and “non-scientific”. However, his Minister of Science, Kamran Daneshjoo, who is also in charge of the universities, apparently disobeyed him asked universities to enforce the decrees passed by this religious body.
As a result, several universities were reorganised so that male and female students would be taught separately. According to Iranian media reports, the Minister of Science is even considering making universities single-sex.
On November 16, the students at Azad University of Dolatabad in Ispahan organized a protest to demand the return of co-education in their institution:
"Patrols circulate in the courtyard to deter men and women from having any contact with each other"
Elnase, 22, is an English Literature student at Azad University of Dolatabad in Ispahan.
Significant changes have already occurred in my university. The separation of the sexes was imposed in the Internet cafés and libraries. Patrols circulate in the courtyard to deter men and women from having any contact with one another, and lectures are now single-sex. A few specialised courses remain open to both men and women due to lack of sufficient resources to create separate courses.In my opinion, these separation measures were taken with the sole aim of creating a climate of fear in the universities. Rather than responding to religious concerns, these measures were taken to prevent protest movements from emerging in Iran. For it is exchange between the sexes that leads to intellectual progress, progress that could lead to the questioning, or even the outright rejection, of the current government and its so-called Islamic principles.This is a distressing situation but both the male and female students are resisting it as much as they can.”