Middle-Eastern Student Group ‘الطاليبان’

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‘We’re proud to announce that this upcoming academic year the RUG will participate in a cultural exchange with a middle-eastern student group called ‘The Students’, said a spokesperson for the University. ‘In case you’re wondering, it’s spelled like… this.’ The spokesperson holds up a card with الطاليبان written on it. ‘Unfortunately I don’t know how to pronounce that. But they’ve assured us it’s fine to just call them “The Students”.’

This exchange is only the latest in a series of efforts by the University to increase its international pedigree. While many have praised this exchange and programs like it, opposition sometimes comes from the most unexpected of places. In this case, it mainly comes from Arabic lecturers and the entire Arabic-speaking student population, all of whom have been very vocal about the exchange being a bad idea.

‘Why on earth were we not consulted about this?’ said an Arabic lecturer at The Faculty of Arts. ‘This exchange is a horrible idea; they’re literally the Taliban. Did no one even try to read the Arabic? ‘طاليبان’ is pronounced ‘taliban’! You just heard that it translates to ‘the students’ and ran with that?’

When asked how the University could better design an exchange program in the future, the lecturer said it was simply a matter of making sure that next time, exchanges are with an actual student group or university.

‘This doesn’t even really translate to ‘the students’’, he added. ‘It translates to ‘two students’ since the -an ending is a dual form. The plural is طلاب (tulāb). I bet this is going to get printed with the letters backward or not connected or something, too. What a bad joke.’

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