Elections 2018: AUB students set an example of transparency and democracy

​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, ss152@aub.edu.lb, Communications Office​

AUB students renew their vows to ethics of liberty, democracy, transparency, and governance through their active annual participation in the AUB student elections. This year, 177 candidates ran for the Student Representative Council (SRC), representing their different majors and years within faculties. In addition, 43 candidates ran for the University Student Faculty Committee (U​SFC), which works with faculty members and AUB administration on university matters. A total of 63.7% of AUB’s student body cast their votes for their representatives in both committees.

Candidates from the elections’ three main campaigns: Students for Change, Leaders of Tomorrow, and Campus Choice, ran for both USFC and SRCs. After campaigning online and on campus, the annual debate on different campaign platforms, and a two-day period of silence, the big day of elections opened from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at polling stations throughout AUB. Students across campus flocked to the voting centers in all faculties to give their votes with enthusiasm and strong support to improving faculty and university facilities, procedures, and programs pertaining to teaching, registration, tuition, capacity of advising, and other issues. 

“This is an opportunity where we, the students, feel like we can voice our opinions and be heard,” said Rawad. “It is our responsibility to take advantage of this opportunity and vote. This prepares us as active factors to make a difference.”

AUB places a strong emphasis on inclusivity and excellence through diversity as “a leader in inclusive education,” in the words of its president, Dr. Fadlo Khuri. Through AUB’s innovative, transparent, and democratic model of proportional representation that started at AUB and then was used in the Lebanese national elections, AUB’s diverse student body is able to feel thoroughly represented. Interviewed students expressed that they feel they are invested in this process, they have a stake in how the elections go, and they know they all have a voice in shaping their results. 

“Through this system, we feel we are able to set the environment we want to live and work in,” said Rewa. “We are all able to practice our right in choosing those who will represent us the best and promoting positive change in our daily lives here at AUB.” 
 
The process was covered by AUB through live tweets, and social media videos, images, and posts. Independent observers guaranteed fair and democratic representation, and teams were responsible for orderly execution, information provision, and integrity. 

“We passed by seven schools and faculties and saw a diverse group of students voting their opinions in considerable numbers,” said President Khuri. “We know for a fact that they are voting for platforms that are different than those in the country outside of AUB. We are proud of our resourceful and brave students who are exercising their civic responsibility through the right to vote.” 

As the voting process ended, the crowds gathered outside West Hall, AUB’s iconic center for student activity and activism. Anticipation built up as the counting began, and the cheering became louder as the results showed in dramatic, swelling waves. 

“This has been a great learning experience,” said Nadine. “We understood what to look for in a candidate and how to find and vote for the right one. This should not be about popularity or succumbing to pressure from others, it is about voting on our own, based on platforms, for people we are convinced will get us the outcomes we are calling for. This learning experience will be very helpful for us to vote in the right way and for the right reasons outside AUB.”

The number of seats and distribution per faculty have remained unchanged but the divisions and composition will be different starting next year, with revised USFC bylaws, due to the emergence of the Hariri School of Nursing as a new faculty in its own right at AUB, no longer listed under the Faculty of Medicine. 

“AUB remains an example of democracy and truly a remaining shimmering light in today’s world,” said Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin. “The elections have really been excellent today. They have gone smoothly in a spirit of democracy and positive competition, with a great turnout in the morning and enthusiasm showing right through the day. We are proud of our students who hold on to the best ideals of democracy and what it stands for. The campaign was held in great spirit. We believe these elections are a big success, both in terms of logistics and the values they represent.”