SU presidential candidate Mostafa Fahmi introduces comprehensive plan to promote AUC diversity
The Caravan’s spring 2012 Student Union election series, each presidential candidate was interviewed regarding their plans for a better SU. Here, we sat down with candidate Mostafa Fahmi and his VP Farida Zaki to discuss their plans and proposals for the Student Union. Fahmi is striving to make the benefits to being an AUCian apparent to students both on and off campus, and better integrating members of the AUC community to promote tolerance and acceptance.
Q. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
A. (Mostafa Fahmi, Presidential candidate): I'm Mostafa Fahmy, electronics major, minor business. I love sports, I love meeting people from all social classes, I love having an influence in people's lives and being part of a bigger project and doing something that is meaningful, helping people, helping improving the place where I belong.
Q. What experience do you have with university activities?
A. (Fahmi): I've been part of several activities like Modern Arab League (MAL), Entrepreneur's Society (ES) and also Model Business Administration (MBA), and I've also been a member of the university soccer team since I entered AUC. I see activities as part of the university's experience, but you can't summarize the whole AUC experience in activities. There are a lot of other aspects and a lot of other fields that you need to explore in order to have a bigger picture of AUC to know what is best for it.
(Farida Zaki, Vice Presidential candidate) I am Farida Zaki, major economics, minor business, I've done many activities, I presented AUC in two case solving competitions in Canada and the states, MUN. We want to represent even the students outside the SU. Our plan is to do surveys to know what the people really want and need.
Q. Why are you running for Student Union President?
A. (Fahmi) Because we deserve better - we deserve better on many levels, academically, socially. Part of the advantage of being an AUCian is that AUC offers a lot of services that are not offered anywhere else and the problem is that not all the students are aware of these services or benefitting from them.
One of my reasons for running is to promote the existence of these services and another part is bringing the services to the students, creating new tangible services so that the students can feel their influence in their daily lives.
This is one part. Another part is the advantage of being in a diverse university such as AUC, and you have people having different backgrounds, different experiences, and different stories.
Part of the experience is getting to know all of them and getting to know how to interact with different backgrounds and to increase tolerance. We want to integrate the AUC community and let everyone get out of their world and all integrate in one big AUC community.
Q. What is your presidential plan?
A. (Fahmi) My plan is divided into several sections:
1. Services: promoting services on and off campus in order to make the lives of students easier.
2. Public Relations: internal and external. External PR is concerned with the Egyptian Student Union; we just want to promote it, develop it, and to leave our mark. Internally, which is more important, involves communicating with the AUC society and how you're going to break the ice and break the barriers between the several worlds.
We want to promote and develop the SU website and the SU publications and to make it more effective. We want to bring the AUC community together; we suggest making soccer tournaments and football leagues to make people interact. We want to introduce ice breaking games in the first week of classes so that classmates know each other better
3. Activities: Welcome party, Carnival, Talent Show, SU trips. Our vision for this committee is that it's just a mean not the end. We have to focus on the main purpose behind these events. For example, it's not important in a welcome party to get celebrities but what's more important is to get AUCians to actually go these events and welcome them to AUC.
4. Academics: Clear the obstacles that students face academically such as changing the major declaration. Every student has the right to study what he's interested in and this shouldn't be constrained by GPA.
If you're interested in doing something you should be able to do it - enhance the peer to peer tutoring system because there are people in AUC who still take private lessons off campus and this is not why you're in AUC. Another function of this department is motivating the excellent students by rewarding them in several ways.
5. Another new department that we want to initiate is Politics: It basically aims at enhancing political awareness of political parties, political ideologies, and organizing political debates to raise tolerance and it's a good opportunity on the university level to raise tolerance
6. Research and development department: This is the core or the steering wheel of our plan. It will be responsible for collecting complaints from the students and if there is a certain thing that many students think is a problem or something that they want to see achieved in the university through surveys, website and whatever way that will make us reach students whom we want to represent, we will make the students who have the problem be part of the committee solving the problem because it's their problem.
They are aware of the problem's dimensions and they will be keen on solving it and by this we are integrating people and making them part of the Student Union in a field that they like and are passionate about. We as the SU give them the tools by which they can have a feasible proposal and then after finishing this project they can join the SU or leave but at least they would know how the SU is like and would feel its value and importance.
(Zaki): We want to build on what the previous SU presidents did, not to start from scratch and collectively we can do much more.
Q. Have you selected your cabinet?
A. (Fahmi) Not yet but we discussed the criteria on which we're going to base our recruitment. Two main criteria: the first is to understand the vision and have the passion and the will to implement it.
Second which is equally important is to have the abilities to actually implement this plan with implementing major projects specified in the plan. We don't believe in a one man show; we believe in teamwork. We want everyone to have the room and the authority to be a decision maker, stick to the bigger plan and move forward.
Q. You are not a member of the current Student Union. Regarding the accusations against this union, what would you do so as not to face impeachment?
A. (Fahmi) I'm glad that you brought this up because a lot of people are questioning the new constitution. I believe that the student union should be always involved with the senate because the senate consists of the student body representatives so dealing with it will be a shortcut instead of making surveys.
If you already have people who represent them, they should not only have to monitor but also they should have a say in the decision because they represent the students and part of their problem would be presenting proposals and suggestions of what we could do or how we should proceed with the plan.
Q. How would you respond to the people who think the SU is useless?
A. (Zaki): We will have those students in the SU, we want as many students as possible in the SU and to give ideas. If they feel integrated and well presented they won't think that way.
(Fahmy): Plus we want to increase the tangible services, the impact of which students would feel regularly so that they can see how the SU makes their lives easier on campus. Having them on the projects will make them solve their problems and SU will be empowering them
Q. Don't you think not belonging to a camp will weaken your chances of winning?
A. (Fahmi): We do have a team but we don't have to have loud voices or sing Ultras songs and stuff like that; this is not the right way to campaign. We are speaking to people's minds; we have a strong plan and we have put so much effort in it. We've talked to a lot of people to know exactly what the people need and what to include in the plan.
So, we reach people in our own way. We don't look at what other people do or what previous people have done and do like them. We don't want to have it within a popularity context but we want people to actually look at the plan, see what they like and what they don't like and then see who is the best candidate.
Q. To what limit do you think the SU should be involved in the social movements?
A. (Fahmi): [Current SU President] Ahmed Alaa started the Egyptian Student Union which is a very good idea and it's normal that when you feel your SU is doing quite well, you think of how to take it to the next level, to have a SU engaging students from all over Egypt for the SU presidents to talk and see what are the common problems and how we could develop, what they did that could be useful to us and vice versa, as a form of dialogue. We plan that the research and development committee see what the SUs around the world do, what new ideas they have, how they dealt with their problems and the problems that are similar to ours, to have broad minds and to reach out.
As what we could do for Egypt, the politics department's aim is not to make you biased towards a certain affiliation but to raise general political awareness, to have friends of different political affiliations debate so as to have more political tolerance. Then, students will be more ready for the outer community and this is the role of AUC after all to prepare students to go out to the real world.
Q. What was your impression of the debate with the other candidates?
A. (Fahmi): As expected. All the candidates were respectable and nobody tried to embarrass the others during questions.
(Zaki): I liked [Ahmad] Kabil's opinions and thoughts
(Fahmy): The culture we're trying to promote is that if we didn't win and people chose another approach this doesn't mean I feel I'm out. I'm in the elections because I have something that I want to give and if I didn't win I will want to be a part of it and to use the ideas and the plans we came up with to serve the AUC community, not only about the position but to care about the university and to have ideas that you want to implement in the appropriate context.