SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 23, 2022

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Sharif University of Technology

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In October 2022, Sharif University of Technology (SUT) reportedly barred 33 students from campus for their alleged participation in protests over the death of a young woman who was in the custody of so-called “morality police.”

Starting on September 17, protests spread across Iran, including at various universities, following the death-in-custody of Jina Amini (also known as Mahsa Amini) after so-called “morality police” detained her. Police and security forces have responded to the protests with violence and arrests, including on October 2, when security forces carried out a violent crackdown on a peaceful student protest at SUT, injuring several students and arresting at least 40 students (see report). SUT has been the site of a number of protests, including on October 23 when female students held a protest against gender segregation in the male student’s section of the cafeteria.

On October 23, it was reported that SUT had barred 33 students from campus for alleged protest-related activities. In November, the number of barred students rose to 80, according to University World News citing a media news account that covers news at the university.

Starting in October, news outlets, human rights groups, and the Iranian Council of Student Unions have reported accounts of students being suspended or barred from entering their universities for their alleged participation in the protests. Some of these universities reportedly include Allameh Tabataba’i University, Al-Zahra University, and Guilan University.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution effectively summarily suspending students for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Higher education officials should respect students’ exercise of such rights and refrain from disciplinary actions that punish or deter nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish student protests on campus undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.