AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

A security and Control device?


American University of Beirut wall, 2005

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

In years past, Bliss exerted a lot of attention, resources and energy in favor of walling the SPC Campus, sometimes giving it precedence over other equally important matters, e.g. in one instance, establishing a scholarship for a student. In a letter addressed to his wife, Bliss wrote that walls are "an essential thing in this country [...] to cut off the grounds from the public". Noting the "striking contrast to the open lawns of my college in America", a new SPC faculty member was told that the walls were "to keep the students in and to keep other people out". 




Howard Bliss Photo Collection 1.jpg

President Howard Bliss, 1902

 Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

By keeping students within campus walls, SPC Founders maintained a "close community [...] in which students would study, eat, sleep, and worship" apart from the chaos, pestilence and tight quarters of city life. In line with their Puritan New England collegiate models,  the SPC Faculty tightly monitored the life of this "academical village", whereby students and teachers shared the same temporal, physical, and productive space in strict hierarchical order."

Abunnasr, M. B. (2013). The making of Ras Beirut: A landscape of memory for narratives of exceptionalism, 1870-1975. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Amherst.



Security guard bolus.jpg

A guard checks the identification card of a student, 1970s.

 Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

Initially, many prohibitions governed student life; some spaces were not open to them, e.g. the guard house and the kitchen were off premises, and any unauthorized visits outside of the campus were firmly reprimanded. Staffing the Gate with a guard continued to have this function of ensuring security, and control of the campus premises: any infringements upon University's guidelines had to happen under a guard's watchful eyes, and were therefore more easily corrected or controlled.


Al-Kinanah no13, 1901.jpg

                          Binayah jadidah - from "Al-Kinanah" no.13, 1901

 Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Archival Collection

Students, in a typical manner, laughed off the consecration of their circumscription. In this student magazine, students joke about the new plans of the Administration to hire a guard at the door, upon the completion of the Main Gate Building.

Al- Kinanah Student Magazine, 1901, no 13 rd, ASC, AUB Archives.