Lebanon News

Student ballots at AUB gather some steam

AUB students arrive at the campus in Beirut, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: AUB students aim at pressuring the administration to reverse its tuition fee billing policy back to Lebanese lira, one of the campaigns has pledged as elections are set to take place this Friday.

President of the Secular Club at AUB, Dany Rasheed said that the country’s economic turmoil is affecting AUB students.

AUB took a decision to dollarize the tuition fees back in June 2019. “This decision affects us if the pound devaluates” said Rasheed, adding that as a result “education becomes a commodity and not a right.”

Candidates from the Secular Club are running under the “Campus Choice” campaign, which is focused on raising awareness on national issues that affect the youth. “AUB is not a bubble,” Rasheed said.

He added that the slogan of the Campus Choice this year is “Reclaim Tomorrow.” “We believe our future has been stolen from us by politicians” he said, adding that the voting age of 21 leaves out the youth’s voice on many issues.

Independent candidates and candidates of the Secular Club at AUB, who are against the presence of political parties on campus, will run for elections, with the latter winning a significant number of seats in recent years. “There is an increase in the number of independent candidates running for the USFC this year, which is very uncommon” Rasheed said.

Student Council elections in Lebanon reflect the national political dynamics, as alliances on campus are based on the now-defunct March 8 and March 14 national coalitions.

At AUB, students elect candidates from their respective schools for the Student Representative Council and the University Student Faculty Committee.

Progressive Socialist Party supporters who usually run with the “Students for Change” campaign affiliated with March 8 will run with “Leaders of Tomorrow,” March 14’s campaign at AUB, according to Karim al-Kabbani, representative of Future Movement at AUB.

“The amount of people voting for us is high and has been increasing every year” Kabbani said, amid the fact that the March 8 alliance has been dominating the student elections at AUB with its “Students for Change” campaign in recent years. “For example, last year we won 8 out of 12 seats of the USFC,” he said.

He added: “Competition will be tight this year,” and “the results will hopefully be in our favor.”

New campaigns are running in certain schools this year that claim to be independent; however, they are allegedly affiliated with certain parties and there are contradictory accounts on which alliance they are affiliated with. There have been previous cases of students winning as independent candidates and later revealing their true allegiances.

The university has established an internal server for e-voting, which is the first of its kind in Lebanon, designed to protect the process from hacks.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 17, 2019, on page 2.

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