Memoirs of a frustrated student body: a long tradition of low voter turnout
Every election season in spring, low voter turnout at the Student Union presidential elections indicate that AUC students are not particularly interested in the electing their representatives, and show little concern with student politics in general. According to a poll conducted by The Caravan last week, 37 percent of the students surveyed are planning not to vote.
"Students do not vote for one of two reasons. Either they feel that they are not served through the SU, which reflects their attitude, or they do not know who to vote for as they do not know any of the candidates," said current SU President Ahmed Alaa Fayed, which proved to be the case among some students.
"I don't think the SU is important at all, at least not anymore," said Tuqa El-Harouny, an AUC construction engineering senior.
El-Harouny also believes that students apply for SU President or the High Board "to put [those positions] on their CVs, and not to volunteer to serve other students and clubs."
She also believes that the SU does not implement any useful projects for students.
Yousra Habib, an MICT senior, will not vote for the same reason: "There's nothing serious [about the SU] anymore, just concerts and minor things. [There are] no more real projects."
According to Amr Fathy, a member of the Student Senate, "AUC students are lacking proactivity. Students in general have lost faith in the Student Union due to its declining performance."
Omar Omar, a political science sophomore, thinks that the hierarchical structure of the SU hinders its success: "The SU has become too much of an organization to be effective. It's too big and too bureaucratic."
Omar added that the potential candidates and their cabinets are not experienced enough to be able to handle such a position. Additionally, Omar believes that the administration should intervene when necessary.
However, there are other factors surrounding the nature of the SU and its elections that cause students to be discouraged and demotivated.
Habib, along with many other students, complains that campaigners are a burden to deal with around election time.
"I hate campaigners. They don't have the right to force me to vote. They should only explain the program and leave me to decide," said Christeena Saadalla, a business administration senior.
Fathy agrees that candidates' supporters campaign on campus "with little or no mention of [the candidates'] actual vision or plan."
According to ex-campaigner Ahmed Rahim, "Campaigning is frivolous and ridiculous." He also mentioned in a note on Facebook that a lot of what campaigners do is deceive the student body into voting for a particular person.
Rahim suggests that campaigners ask people to be proactive and vote, instead of telling them to vote for a specific candidate.
Another reason why many students do not vote is because they feel candidates do not invest enough time in explaining their plans to students. Saadalla says she unaware of the candidates and their plans.
"Campaigners shouldn't just appear on the day of the elections, and I [shouldn't] have to attend the debate to know the plans," she said, adding that the coming SU President should be eager to communicate with the public.
Fathy also added that this would be beneficial for candidates to encourage students to become more proactive.
Omar, furthermore, believes that the debates conducted amongst potential candidates are useless: "I don't think it's important because the candidates always continue to go around in circles and the way they debate is very unorganized and does not inspire confidence."
Sayed Omar, student organization specialist at the Office of Student Development (OSD), elaborates on that point.
"The way the SU elections are organized is not appropriate. Students do not know when the elections will take place. Moreover, the credibility of the SU in general is not good," he said.
Yet, Fathy believes that the number of voters this year will increase due to the high number of candidates, four in total, and their accompanying vice presidential candidates.