By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Three MPs on Monday filed a draft law calling to cancel a 1996 law that bans coeducation at Kuwait University as dozens of students staged a protest outside the administration offices to protest a decision to impose segregation at the College of Law. The draft law submitted by MPs Jenan Bushehri, Dawood Maarafi and Abdulwahab Al-Essa calls for abolishing the 1996 law that bans coeducation at Kuwait University unless it is extremely necessary. The bill also calls on the university to create two options for students: Classes for men or women only or mixed gender classes and let the students choose which type of classes they want to join.

The draft law is not expected to be debated before the opening of the new term, and will require lengthy debates before it is accepted or rejected. The Cabinet on Monday approved an Amiri decree calling for the new term of the National Assembly to start on Oct 31.

Dozens of university students held a demonstration outside the university administration offices to protest against the decision taken by acting director of Kuwait University Fayez Al-Dhafiri last week, enforcing the segregation law at the law college. Students opposed to the decision have said that the decision was taken after pressure by Islamist MPs, describing this as an external interference in the affairs of the university. The protest was called by two liberal groups, but Islamist students also took part.

Coordinator of the Democratic Forum Group Mohammad Al-Qattan said 1,500 students at the law college have been harmed by the decision because of changing their timetables. University registration officials have said that the registration for students had been completed without any problem. Qattan accused the university director of submitting to external pressure by MPs who have no right to interfere.

Member of the law college students board Turki Al-Dhafiri said the decision to halt mixed classes was politically motivated to satisfy a certain political group. He said that issuing the decision so late has negatively affected the students. Fatima Dashti, a professor at the law college, said the decision was only applied at the law college, while there are many mixed classes at other colleges. She protested at the interference of MPs in university affairs.

Dr Sheikha Al-Jassem, who was among professors who joined the protest, criticized the government over its handling of the issue, adding that the university director did not respect the constitutional court ruling. Jassem said that the constitutional court in a ruling in 2015 interpreted the segregation law by saying that segregation can be done in the same classroom by allowing female and male students to sit on different sides of the room and not necessarily in separate classes.