Yousra el Nemr
Student Senate members will soon be voting on a new constitution to be drafted by the Constitution Formation Committee (CFC) after the senate fills all vacancies via elections held last week.
This initiative to formulate a new constitution comes after the events that changed Egypt and AUC over the past year, and seeks to give students and community members a clearer guide for student activities and participation.
After motions in the senate were raised for modifications to be made to the current constitution, nine senate members formed the CFC, which reviewed the constitutions available at different universities around the world as well as adding their own modifications in hopes of creating one that suits AUC students and its campus life.
Hesham Shaker, the senator representing computer engineering majors and a member of the Constitution Formation Committee said, “The constitution we are using now was amended in 2004 and since then, it has never changed. But because some major points are missing in this constitution, we are now working on modifying some of its articles.”
Shaker provided some examples of what needs to be changed in the current constitution: “One of the main things that, in my opinion, needs to be modified is that all the SU board should be elected not appointed, and also all the student body should have the right to attend any trainings organized by the SU and not only the SU members.”
However in response to that, Mohamed Alaa, Development and Political Awareness Chair of the Student Union, said, “In my opinion, the proposed idea of recruiting the SU board by elections not by appointment is not logical especially since the SU president needs to select those who will help him fulfil his plan for the whole year, and elections cannot guarantee him this. The student body might elect people who cannot work together and who might not be convinced with the SU president’s plan.”
Shaker raised another point that students, since impeaching Hisham Shafick from the SU presidency last year, think that the Senate and the SU work against each other, which is a misconception.
The new constitutional changes will also result in merging the Student Union, the Senate, and the Student Judgmental Board in a single entity working together, which would eliminate the belief that they are opponents.
“Some people reject the idea of the merging because it may cause an overlap in the job description and in the authority of each of (faction),” said Shaker.
Yet the Student Union has also counter argued that issue.
Alaa pointed out that the SU itself refuses such idea as it will limit the monitoring authority of the Senate over the SU, which might lead to corruption.
“The new changes in the constitution says that the SU president will be the top manager of the Student Union, the Senate, and the SJB which, in my opinion, will result in the same problem of who monitors whom,” Alaa added.
Concerns over monitoring the SU budget emerged when the new constitution clauses were being debated, yet the Student Union insisted that this will not happen.
“The new draft of the constitution has nothing to do with the SU’s budget,” said Alaa.
“The SU’s board used to submit its budget plan to the senate in a meeting which includes the senate members and the SU board; then the senate discusses the plan with the SU till it confirms using this budget along the year; however, we do not follow the same procedures this year,” he added.
Since spring 2011, the CFC has been working on the new amendments hoping to finish them by this semester. Meetings were held regularly to reach this new modified constitution since the committee was first formed. The new constitution draft that was released last week will be a step towards empowering students and integrating them more in the university’s political life, as the senate aims.