For Kuwait students, uncertainty
By Karen Kaplan
The effects of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait are even being felt here on the MIT campus.
The most pressing concern for MIT students from Kuwait now is finding the means to stay in school. Because all Kuwaiti assets have been frozen, students from that country have had to find creative ways to pay their tuition.
Leonard V. Gallagher '54, director of student financial aid, said that unlike students at other universities, MIT students will be able to continue to register for classes despite the status of their student accounts.
"We certainly don't expect [Kuwaiti students] to turn around and go home," said Gallagher, although he is aware of students being forced to withdraw from other schools for financial reasons.
"We are trying to temporize
as much as possible," said Gallagher. "We expect to proceed as we have in other international crises like this." Gallagher tells students affected by the invasion to speak to someone in his or the bursar's office if they have any concerns and to follow the international events as they occur day by day.
"In the last analysis, we can always go to the Tech Loan Fund [for tuition money] if it becomes a protracted conflict lasting many months," he said.
"MIT has been very courteous to me" about tuition payments, said Hisham I. Kassab '93, an Austrian citizen who lived in Kuwait. "There has been no pressure at all."
Many MIT students from Kuwait said they had been afraid that obtaining visas to leave the country and finding transportation out of the region would be difficult amidst the mass confusion and crowds.
Kassab spent the summer in Kuwait with his family and was not concerned about returning to the United States until a few weeks after the invasion of Aug. 2. "At first we thought the occupation would only last a short while," he said. "But after a while I started to worry about how I would get out."
Kassab described flights booked for weeks in advance and Jordanian borders so crowded that they took four days to cross. "Every day there were new [immigration] laws and restrictions being passed to reduce the number of refugees in Jordan," he said, making it increasingly difficult to leave the country.
Other ways out included driving through the desert to get to Saudi Arabia or Iraq, although the extreme temperatures caused many overheated automobiles to be abandoned along the way.
In the end, Kassab was able to leave Kuwait with an Austrian convoy after Austrian President Kurt Waldheim came to Iraq and arranged for his citizens to leave.
"I knew Austria was a neutral country, so I wasn't too concerned about being kept," said Kassab. "Britons and Americans are in a much worse situation there. People of Arab nationalities are allowed to come
and go freely. The dilemma is transportation."
Lack of transportation held up May F. Nasrallah '93. According to her brother, Walid F. Nasrallah '86, she had been in Baghdad during the invasion and was unable to contact the West for a month.
"May couldn't get a visa into Jordan because of complicated Arabic politics," said Walid. "There are no official restrictions on Arabs," but it took her three days to travel from Baghdad to Boston.