Egyptian Student Union in Action After 30 Years of Being Banned

Potential Presidential Candidates at ESU - PHOTO BY AHMED MOHSEN

The executive board of the Egyptian Student Union met with the Minister of Higher Education Moataz Khorshied on Aug. 25 informing him that all current presidents and deans of the universities that were appointed by State Security should be removed and elections to be held soon.

The Egyptian Student Union’s mission statement aims to raise political awareness amongst Egyptian students, defend student rights, and create a proactive generation of young Egyptians leaders to develop the country.

The decision for the Egyptian student union to emerge again after being banned in 1979 was in collaboration with the student unions of Cairo University, Ain Shams University, and the American University in Cairo respectively. Around fifteen Egyptian public universities and seven private universities participated in a four-day conference during which representatives from various student unions around the country met at AUC to discuss the shape and structure of the new student movement.

“The agenda for the four-day forum at the university was to reach an understanding and a final image for the structure of the union,” said Omar Farahat, AUC’s current SU Vice president.

“We are students from different universities that each have their own mentalities. During the forum, we sat with each other every day for about six hours to understand each other and putting down our common goals and hopes for this union to be able to solve the problems faced by students both in public and private universities. The forum was basically a time where we can understand each other, get our ideas closer and decide on a final structure of the union,” Farahat added.

The structure was the major topic during the forum and a final structure was agreed upon on the last day where it was decided that there will be no one president for the union, rather a board made of different members to guide the activities of the movement.

“There will be a team made of seven members and they are all going to be responsible for different aspects and different projects of the union. They are all responsible of carrying out the objectives of the union and make sure it is being followed,” said Farahat.

Free elections were held on the last day of the forum at Ain Shams University, where fifteen universities participated from public universities were competing on five seats and seven private universities were competing for two seats, representative of the number of universities in Egypt.

Each member will serve in their positions for one year after which new elections will be held.

Vowing to unite students and to raise political awareness, the union declared, “The new student governing body will give an opportunity for students to have a say and be part of the decision-making process in the country and have a role in developing the country and its future.”

The Egyptian Student Union plans to fulfill this vision by setting a number of goals and missions that includes creating an alliance between all student unions at public and private universities, as well as to help universities that do not have a student union or a deficiency in student representation by creating introducing student governments and constitutions.

They also called for the creation of an official constitution issued by the government that will ensure the rights of students and their freedom, upon which Abdel Meniem Abou el Fetouh, Egyptian Presidential candidate hopeful, and previous member of the Egyptian Student Union in the 1970s commented that the new union should not be established through a presidential declaration but by a law formed at the Parliament to maintain its strength and sustainability.

While it was agreed upon that there will be a committee that will supervise elections in all universities to ensure fairness and to connect all the universities together, all existing student unions and new ones created will manage the student life in each university according to its own constitution.

Mennat Youssef
News Editor