Sally Abou Melhem and Safa Jafari Safa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Following a year and a half of effective lockdown and a period of campus closure, the AUB campus was vibrant with enthusiastic students active, hopeful, and ready for change: It was student election day 2021.
“I am proud that our students are expressing their opinions by engaging in voting," said AUB President Fadlo Khuri. “As always, the students of AUB are proving to be role models for Lebanon and the region in their peaceful, independent, and thoughtful prosecution of their opinions. It is a message of hope for all to hear."
Through a significant rate of eager participation, AUB held its student elections on October 14, 2021. As with last year, nomination, candidacy, and result announcement took place fully online with a requirement to undergo an eligibility validation process for both candidates and electors.
The elections proposed a total of 197 candidates. The University Student Faculty Committee seats were hotly contested over major platforms that competed on all seats, in addition to other campaigns that spread across AUB's faculties.
Election day was preceded by two campaign days, followed by the traditional debate organized by Outlook newspaper, this year back to being held outside West Hall the day before elections. Also, unlike last year, platforms were able to hold stands on campus in front of West Hall as part of their campaigns. The student governing body and representatives work hand-in-hand with professors and administration to contribute to the decision-making process affecting matters that pertain to their daily lives at AUB. Debates and platforms this year tackled issues including those related to education post-COVID, financial burdens with the current drop in value of the Lebanese lira, and online learning.
This year, the students had the option of either voting on campus, for available internet access, or from anywhere in the world, through a highly secure, fool-and-hack-proof system. The process took place amid continued anti-COVID regulations that replaced physical polling stations with online applications. This channel was also seen as necessary to maximize participation, despite current circumstances, particularly those that may restrict access to campus, such as the recent shortage in fuel.
“The elections 2021 will be landmark elections that epitomize the best of AUB students and their civic responsibilities that make them so unique and distinguished," Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin told us. “As usual I am very confident that AUB students will set a fine example of civilized democratic practice and behavior and that the elected leaders will work together and with the administration towards collective solutions that ease the burdens on students especially in terms of the difficult academic challenges they face."
Nizameddin noted that the success of the election process was the outcome of months of 24/7 technical support from IT, the Registrar's Office, Comptroller's Office, and the Protection Office who worked with the Office of Student Affairs who juggled between various units and the students to ensure smooth and impeccable operation. “These elections reveal to us that despite the hurdles, AUB is still going strong and unmoved by the storms raging around it," Nizameddin added.