AUB Libraries Online Exhibits


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Pele at AUB's Main Gate with Students and Dean of Students Robert Najmey,  1975

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries Archival Collection, Campus 1973

Brazilian super-star football player Pele was invited by the Athletics Department to visit the AUB campus and provide student players with tips on how to improve goal-keeping, ball control and other skills. Pele's visit was a big celebration!

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Visit of two Soviet Delegations to AUB, 1975

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries Photo Collection

The 70s saw a proliferation of visitors and students from all over the world at AUB: this was a period of real internationalization for the University. Here in the photo is an image of two Soviet Delegations to the University, posing in front of the Main Gate.


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International Students from Bahrain, Sudan and Ethiopia posing at the Main Gate, 1970s Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

In the 70s, AUB’s educational role was solidified both regionally and internationally and extended the university’s reach way beyond Lebanon. Many neighboring countries considered AUB as the University of Choice in the region, and sent their children to benefit from the best of the liberal arts education it had to offer. 




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Speakers' Corner, 1970

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

The Speakers' Corner was first established at AUB in 1969, and took place right off Main Gate's turf, between West Hall and Jessup Hall. It was inspired by the Hyde Park tradition in England, which was established in 1872, whereby a public speaking forum would be provided for the community to debate ideas, in a way not so dissimilar from a Greek Agora. The Speaker's Corner would contribute tremendously to a sense of public space, would fuel public debate, freedom of expression, and students' activism, until it was suspended in 1974 by the Administration, following some intense students demonstrations. (It was reinstated in 2009)

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Students demonstration: the 22 days sit-in, 1971

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

1971: the 28 Day sit-In:

Following the Administration's decision to raise the tuition by 10%, starting with the academic year 1971-72, the Student Council called for an open strike, starting on Thursday May 13, to "protest the unilateral and surprise decision of the Administration" to raise the tuition by 10%. Tight security measures stalled the University entrances, filtering who was allowed onto the campus. The students organized a sit-in in front of the Main Gate, and closed the doors of the College Hall, making it impossible for members of the administration to enter or leave the building.

Quoted in the Main Gate Spring 2006 Vol. IV, No. 3,


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The Main Gate of the American University of Beirut closes, 1971

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Photo Collection

Five days into the Open Strike, President Kirkwood suspended AUB's academic program for 1970-71, and as a response, the Student Council called for the occupation of Jessup and Fisk Halls, including the office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences. By the end of the 28 days sit-in, 22 students were suspended from the University.


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Students sit in at the Main Gate, 1971

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Archival Collection, Campus 1971

In an open letter to the student body, entitled "Proving our Mettle", and dated October 11th, 1971, the Student Council wrote:

"The Administration has been able to describe the strike and its underlying motivations as ‘political’ in nature. Some administrators claimed the strike was part of the tug-of-war on campus between the Right and the Left. Others associated it with the movement to liberate Palestine. Some administrators referred to it as a Zionist-inspired plot to close down the University. Others passed the word that it was directed against the AUB workers and tourism in Lebanon…etc.

We, the students, were able to prove our mettle throughout the 28-day strike and as recently as last Saturday, October 9, when we turned the NSP (Nutrition Science Program) Farm Trip into a demonstration of solidarity with our 22 colleagues who have been suspended from the University. In recent days, we expressed our dismay over the reprisal measures taken by the Administration to suffocate the voice of the students through the display of posters; the organization of fund drives and sessions of the Speaker’s Corner; the endorsement of an appeal for reintegration of the suspended students by over 1,200 of their colleagues; the rendition of ‘strike songs’ such as ‘We Shall [sic] Overcome’ and ‘O Freedom’ at the Hangout Party and the Farm Trip; and the financing of LOOKOUT…etc. Student participation in the University’s educational and administrative affairs should become part of the students’ education. Needless to say that student participation should be built on the premise of freedom and democracy."

Quoted in the Main Gate Spring 2006 Vol. IV, No. 3,


Students demonstration, 1973

Archives and Special Collections, AUB Libraries, Archival Collection, Campus 1973


Throughout the 70s, student activism would escalate: "in April 1973, following the First Congress of Education which was organized at the UNESCO Palace through the initiative of the Lebanese University Student Union, which called for the reform of government schools and the recognition of the rights of teachers in these schools, 221 Students from different Lebanese universities later on went to the streets in support of the demands of this congress. And when the general assembly of the AUB Student Council, on 6 April 1973, decided to join the protest, Bliss Street was turned into a battlefield between the students and the Lebanese security forces."

Rabah, M. G., & American University of Beirut. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Department of History and Archaeology. (2007). The student movement at the American University of Beirut. p:89