Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Presidential Student Advisors Dismissed

Sara Isfahani, Rooz Online:
After just 3 sessions, the group of students advising President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on student issues was dismissed because of its criticism of the performance of the government in the sphere of higher education. According to Rooz reporter, most of the advisors were from the Jame Eslami Daneshjooyan group who have held 3 meetings with the president during the past nine months. During their last meeting they were informed that that was their last session. This dismissal came despite the fact that their initial invitation to the body specifically provided for them to remain presidential advisors during the entire presidential term. READ MORE

According to Rooz reporter, this decision was made by the president because of the extensive criticism these students had presented. Most of the student disapprovals revolved about the government policies inside the universities, the replacement of university president’s without any criteria, crackdown on students active in political spheres, and the retirement of a group of experienced university lecturers. It is reported that so many objections of government’s policies were raised during the last meeting of the group that the president became uncomfortable a number of times and had to be calmed down by his aides.

Higher education has been a strongly contending issue ever since Ahmadinejad became president last year. The unprecedented appointment of a cleric to head Tehran University, the burial of war martyrs on campus for political reasons without any regard for the wishes and calls of the students and their organizations, the removal of lecturers through the excuse of retiring them, the arrest and detention of student activists and demands that they end or reduce their political activities on campus, efforts to strengthen parallel student groups that support the government, stricter clothing rules for students are among the issues students have been unhappy with including the group that served as an advisory body to the president.

The practice of advisory boards is not new to Ahmadinejad. He first formed a university students advisory group when he was still the mayor of Tehran. In view of Ahmadinejad’s desire to generate and build his future cadres from amongst his supporters, the students comprising the advisory body are considered to be those who provide him unconditional support. As an example one of the presidential student advisors Mehrdad Bazrpash recently publicly expressed his criticism against the public letter that some 50 Iranian economists wrote in which they critiqued the current economic policies and issued warnings about them. But when it comes to students issues, the same group has criticized the government’s policies and performance. It is said that the president maintained his calm during the first two sessions, when his policies were under attack, but gave way at the third and final meeting of the group.

President Ahmadinejad had formed various presidential advisory groups during recent months and this students advisory group was one of them.