In the midst of an ongoing debate over the expulsion of university professors, student unions across Iran have voiced their protest against gender segregation in classrooms.

Iran's Student Union Council issued a statement on Monday, in response to a letter signed by Abolfazl Ghafari, the Deputy for Cultural, Social, and Student Affairs at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad advocating for the introduction of gender segregation.

The memo has also been shared with the heads of other faculties within the institution, signaling a broader institutional shift towards segregation. The students’ statement underscored the divisive nature of gender separation and rallied against it.

The discourse on gender segregation in Iranian universities is not new, having spanned several decades and permeated various aspects of campus life, including dormitories, library halls, and sports facilities. Furthermore, many single-gender universities have been established in recent years.

While Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed opposition to physically partitioning classrooms in the late 1990s, he has more recently advocated for the Islamization of universities and the avoidance of mixed-gender interactions.

As the anniversary of last year’s protests approaches and nationwide demonstrations loom, the government has formally launched the implementation of gender segregation within university classrooms.

Simultaneously, the expulsion of professors, summoning of students, and issuance of suspension and expulsion orders across various universities continues. Some protesting students remain under arrest and trial, further deepening the tensions in the field of higher education.

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