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The Faculty of High Heels! Sana’a University: More Mixing than Education

  Written By: Assma Almasmari (YEMEN POST)
  Article Date:
October 20, 2008



The Faculty of Arts has been for long dubbed the faculty of high heels, as male students claim that females go there to show off the latest styles and fashion. With the spread of education among women, citizens fear that women will not only educate themselves, but also lose important cultural values that could eventually change the look of this long seen conservative middle eastern country.

An estimated 8835 students study at the faculty of arts and nearly 48 percent of registered students are female. It has been commonly known among students that a portion of the students who enter this faculty are unserious about their future, therefore waste time, mingle, and joke with other students who study in the same faculty.

According to university students, this faculty has been a key for the change of cultural values of Yemeni students. In Yemen, most women are left to stay at home after high school, while they desire to leave the house. For this, when a chance is given to them to leave home and enter university, more freedom is there for them to do as they please, therefore, they take the opportunity without hesitating. When in university, doing what they couldn’t do at home is always first priority for a number of female students.

However, not all parts of this faculty has a bad reputation. In the faculty of arts, there are 11 different sections. The two sections that have by far gotten the worse reputation are the English and French sections. 

In the Yemeni educational system, students who receive fewer than 75% in high school have no chance in entering a faculty of high status, giving students no other option only to attend faculties of low standards in people’s eyes. Students who desire to enter medical school need to get an average of at least 85 percent in high school. Engineering is also a lucrative faculty as students need to receive above 80 percent in high school.

According Fawzi Ahmad, 24, a graduate from the faculty, tens of female students who get dropped off by their family at the faculty of arts, eventually skip school and drive away with male students to unknown destinations. This in return giving more negative reflections on the faculty in the absence of parental supervision.

Fawzi claims that the name "faculty for high heels" is still small, and does not reflect the reality that happens within the four corners of the faculty campus, and that the faculty deserves an even worse title. "Most parents don't know what goes on in the faculty. They consider their daughters as angels, while in reality they are like preys that wait to be hunted by others" Fawzi said.

“You have to see it to believe what I am saying. Their actions are unexpected and they come to the faculty to showcase their fashions and bodies as they wear clothes that reflects the entire image of their body," he added.

From women’s point of view, the majority of women asked about this issue agree that too much mingling and interaction with male students takes place. Sameera Al-Jubari, a 21-year-old student mentions that most misbehavior is witnessed in the English and French sections of the faculty.  Al-Jubari believes that not less than 40 percent of females in the faculty use make-up on a daily basis, and even buy it from shops that exist inside the faculty. She also mentioned that a large number of female students still tend to wear high heels at the faculty, while others have  changed to the latest fashion. “Most families don’t know what their daughters do in the faculty. They give their daughters full freedom and a lot of room to do as they desire,” she adds.

Female students at the faculty of arts told the Yemen Post that in some occasions women wear a Khimar (a long loose black garment covering the upper part of the body) while coming from home, but when they enter the faculty, they go to the restroom and change their cloth to what suits them most. “While I was in the cafeteria, I couldn’t believe my eyes when a female students completely changed her appearance from a baggy wide version of cloth that covers here up completely, to tight cloths,” said a current female student at the faculty of arts who preferred to stay anonymous. “She also moved her veil and put light make up on the face before entering the lecture hall”, she added.

Parents in most situations stay unaware of what happens inside the faculty. Even when the final results at the end of the year are announced, and parents notice the low grades their children receive, no firm actions are taken place, as most parents do not have the educational background to know what is good or bad or what is the expected standards.

Stories of sexual harassment happening to female students who skip classes and leave the faculty with male classmates have been widely spread in recent years. “The faculty is not dubbed the faculty of high heels for nothing. People saw the unexpected from students who study there, and the faculty has continued to lose its reputation more over the years”, said Saleem Noa’man, a father of three university graduates from different faculties at Sana’a University. .

On the other hand, numerous female students in the faculty are dedicated and hard learners. Amal Abdu, a graduate from the faculty claims that only a small number of females are responsible for giving the faculty a bad name, and this hurts every female who is studying now in the faculty as well as those who have  already graduated.

Some locals think twice before allowing their daughters to study at the Faculty of Arts, therefore giving fewer chances for educational growth in a country where illiteracy is over 60 percent in rural areas of the country according to the United Nations Report. Students claim that with such students studying in the faculty, the possibility of negative change could always grow further on. “If a bad apple is put in a group of good apples, it will eventually spread its bad to the good apples and spoil them as well. This is what’s happening at the Faculty of Arts,” said Abdu.