Iran’s Qom University of Medical Sciences has imposed academic suspensions on several students for organizing mixed-gender parties, accusing them of “undermining the social and educational structure and promoting permissiveness through social media activities.”

The university’s disciplinary committee secretary, Mehran Lachini, on November 8 disclosed the bans ranging from one to four academic semesters saying the disciplinary action came following an alleged uproar from students over what they called the disruptive activities of their peers.

The offenses cited included the spreading of what the university deemed as immoral content online and the organization of mixed-gender parties, which prompted an official review and the subsequent decision by the disciplinary committee.

Details regarding the identities or the precise number of students penalized were not revealed.

Gender segregation has long been a contentious issue at Iranian universities.

Over the past four decades, various university facilities, including cafeterias and libraries, have seen the implementation of the gender-segregation policy, sparking protests from students. Some universities have even been established exclusively for just one gender to attend.

In the 1980s, some Iranian universities implemented a system where classes were divided by a curtain to separate male and female students. This measure faced opposition from Ali Khamenei, who was then president and is now Iran’s supreme leader.

Over the past two decades, Khamenei has consistently stressed the importance of “Islamicizing universities” and has advocated against the organization of “mixed-gender recreational camps.”

Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran. In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily newspaper, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.

Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.

The activist HRANA news agency says at least 700 university students have been arrested during the recent nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly breaking the country’s hijab rule.

Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment and flogging, and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Source » rferl