Fatma El Shenawy
An email sent by Student Union President Ahmed Alaa in response to President Lisa Anderson’s email that presented a list of the committees and the seats available for student representatives, as well as the criterion for each committee stirred controversy among student leaders earlier that week.
The email addressed to Alaa asked for his recommendations for student representatives in various committees.
These seats reserved for students are the administration’s response towards one of the students’ demands to have more student representation in the ongoing committees.
Alaa responded later with an email that caused conflict among student leaders, some describing it as “unclear.”
The email included things like “Representation Unit (SU),” “Academic Committee (SU),” and “Senate & SJB (Student Judicial Board)” without stating specific names in some committees. Rather, entire student governments were chosen by Alaa to represent students in these committees, even individual students were meant to fill these seats.
Wafaa Sadek Amin, Senior Director of Administration and Financial Support and a member of the Food Services Committee, described the email as “confusing.”
She added, “We went through last (food) committee meeting without any student representation.”
Alaa said that he had sent out specific names after discussing the issue with the SJB and Senate chair.
He said, “I shouldn’t have assigned names in the Senate because their by-laws state that the senate has to vote on these names first. This was my mistake. That is why the senate asked to change names on (the) list.”
Amr Abaza, an SJB member said that Senators had very limited time to vote and the SJB supervised the voting session.
Mariam Hamad, Deputy Chair of the Senate, said, “I found out my name was in the email and I did not know.”
She announced that the situation should have been different. The senate, the highest legislative power in the student government as stated in the constitution, should have been informed to write a legislation to regulate the process.
This new law would be executed by the SU, which would choose people according to the laws set by the Senate. However, they did not have time to do that, as she expressed.
Hesham Shaker, Chair of Senate, when asked about the issue, decided to abstain from answering and said, “it was a miscommunication problem.”
From the constitutional approach, Alaa said that according to the constitution, the SU is the sole representative of the student body, which means that the representatives should have been from the SU only.
However he decided “to add more entities, since there are more seats for student representation, in order not to make these seats monopolized by the SU.”
He also added that the SU has a representation committee that provides the members with trainings and workshops to qualify them for representing students in such committees. Moreover, many student Senators and SJB members have had previous experience in such committees and are elected by students.
Abaza added, “The SJB forfeited their seats in the committees,” as they believe others would provide greater input.
He used the Transportation Committee as an example that none of the members are bus riders, and therefore would not have input in transportation matters. The same for the Food Services Committee, that none of the members were on campus residents.
Instead, they recommended Resident Associates to attend the committee meetings, as the matter concerned residents the most.
Abaza said, “The strike (last month) was not limited to the SU,” when discussing whether these seats should be limited to the SU or open to the general public.
Youssef Sami, a Student Senate member, said, “I thank Alaa for including the Senate and SJB. According to the constitution, the SU is the sole representative of the student body. He did not specify people from the Senate and SJB because he was reserving seats for them in the committees.”
The ongoing committees currently are: Labor Rights Grievance Committee, ad hoc Budget Task Force, Landscape Uniforms Consultation, Food Services Committee, Bus Transportation Committee, Academic Planning Committees, and committees dedicated to discussing the issue of having student representatives in Board of Trustees.
Alaa said the SU will send out emails to the student body informing them with committee updates.