Riyadh - More than 50 women students were injured whilst protesting alleged ill-treatment by faculty and administrative staff and poor sanitation at the Abha campus of King Khalid University women's colleges on Wednesday.
The lack of cleanliness was one of the students' main complaints. "We have to walk on mounds of garbage that have accumulated close to the cafeteria," one student said.
Another S said the authorities did not even bother to furnish lecture halls with a sufficient number of chairs and the complaints of students were never heeded.
Students started gathering Wednesday morning in front of the college buildings and protesting after some of them were called by the administration to discuss their issues.
However, Awad Al-Qarni, director of Public Relations at the university, claimed that on Tuesday, students attacked security guards, administrative staff and faculty members.
According to official accounts, a number of officers from the police, Civil Defence, Health Department and Red Crescent as well as 50 members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (HAIA) were present at the scene of the disturbances.
A HAIA spokesman denied that commission members beat the students, claiming instead that they helped them contact their parents. In fact, "the HAIA presence created a sense of peace and security in the girls," he said.
Whatever the case may be, a spokesman for the Health Department in Asir province said that 22 students were admitted to hospitals and 31 cases were treated on the campus itself.
A female student with epilepsy died after receiving a blow to the head, whilst others were either injured in the crush or by police, state owned Iran's Press TV reported.
Saudi media have been silent about the latter claim.
Asir Gov. Prince Faisal bin Khaled ordered an immediate investigation into the incidents, partially because of pressure from students' families.