Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online over a report that staff at a Riyadh university had barred male paramedics from entering a women-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.
The Okaz newspaper said administrators at King Saud University impeded efforts by the paramedics to save the student's life because of rules banning men from being on-site. According to the paper, the incident took place on Wednesday and the university staff took an hour before allowing the paramedics in.
The university's rector, Badran al-Omar, denied the report on Thursday, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He said the university did all it could to save the life of the student, who was identified as Amna Bawazeer.
Al-Omar said that after the incident, he met Bawazeer's father, who told him his daughter had heart problems. The rector said Bawazeer suffered a heart attack and collapsed suddenly.
Her death sparked a debate on Twitter among Saudis, many of whom said the kingdom's rules governing the segregation of the sexes were to blame for the delay in helping Bawazeer.
Following the incident, professors at King Saud University demanded an investigation.
"We need management who can make quick decisions without thinking of what the family will say or what culture will say," said Professor Aziza Youssef.
One staff member who witnessed the situation said paramedics were not called immediately.
She said they were also not given immediate permission to enter the campus and that it appeared that the female dean of the university and the female dean of the college of social studies panicked.
Al-Omar said the paramedics entered the campus immediately. "There was no barring them at all. They entered from a side door," he said.