Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Campus choice

Islamists, along with members of activist movements, have been excluded from upcoming student union elections, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

Hundreds of students have applied for student union (SU) elections scheduled to begin on 16 November. The elections will be the first after a two-year break. The student vote was cancelled in 2013 and 2014 after violent on-campus protests and deadly clashes between security forces and students erupted across the country. Dozens of students were killed and hundreds jailed.

Cairo University President Gaber Nassar told the press that student elections will be conducted in accordance with the regulations of the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) which stipulate that SU elections must be held no later than six weeks after the start of the academic year.

“The university administration will not interfere in the process. It is essential for all students to participate in the upcoming elections, whether as candidates or voters, so as to choose a union that truly represents them,” Nassar said.

Nassar said student candidates must abide by campaign rules and refrain from using partisan or religious slogans. Student candidates who wish to run must be Egyptian, have spent at least one year in university, paid their university fees and be involved in university-run activities.

Candidates must also abide by their electoral programme and should not have been penalised by a disciplinary committee. Nominees must not be affiliated to any terrorist group or one that is criminalised by the law.

The Ministry of Higher Education has banned students who are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, the activist 6 April youth movement, and the Revolutionary Socialists from running. In a press release issued by the ministry, the exclusion was based on a court order that officially identifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group and bans the activities of the other groups.

Awatef Abdel-Rahman, a professor at Cairo University’s Faculty of Mass Communication, said the SU elections have proven throughout the years — whether before the 2011 Revolution or after it — to be highly politicised.

“SU elections have always been considered tarnished by government intervention. There is no actual democracy in the country, so students will not be taught how to exercise true democracy,” Abdel-Rahman said.

Abdel-Rahman believes that all students with varying affiliates should be given the chance to experience democracy. “Excluding a certain group of students from participating in the elections is against the idea of elections and democracy,” argued Abdel-Rahman.

Four camps that will be competing in the SU elections have already emerged. The first is an alliance including all banned groups and members of Al-Dostour Party. The second was established by the pro-regime Mostaqbal Watan Party (Nation’s Future Party). The party won 30 seats in the first phase of the recent parliamentary elections, and campaigns under the slogan Tahia Misr (Long Live Egypt).

The third camp is an alliance called Sawt Tullab Misr (Voice of Egypt’s Students), which seeks to take politics out of university life, while the fourth includes independent students and remnants of former student unions.

Thirty-seven students from Port Said University and 217 from Beni Suef University are running so far.

Applications were submitted between 2-4 November. A preliminary list of candidates is due to be announced on Thursday, 5 November, and the final list will be announced on 10 November after the end of three days of appeals over the list.

Students will then launch their campaigns from 11-15 November. The first round in the elections will be on 16 November.

Elections for SU committee secretariats and their assistants in university faculties will be held on 18 November. Four days later, on 22 November, SU presidents and vice presidents will be elected.

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