By Lama Abdel Barr And Nada Sharkawy
Recently, The Student Union (SU) and the Senate have been at odds over a conflict regarding the AUC constitution.
Last December, a new constitution was passed with 80 votes in favor and 60 votes against, according to the email sent through Portal by the Student Union on March 25th.
This constitution effectively replaced the older version passed in 2004, and is the version currently being implemented.
The constitution has nonetheless faced repeated criticism over reported discrepancies and its legitimacy has been called into question.
The first of several problems would be the clause that states that“any proposed constitution should pass by at least a total of 1000 votes.” Having passed by a total of 80 in favor, many believe that the new constitution is invalid as it did not receive the required number of votes.
With the 20 vote difference between the two sides, came a substantial difference in ideologies and visions for the ideal AUC constitution. A difference that SU President Ahmed Alaa believes represents a “bigger struggle of power between the Union and the Senate.”
In the email, the SU expresses their belief that the voting process was unfair due to the fact that it was carried out on the last day of classes. They believe that his timing led to only a “very little number of students [being] aware [of the occurrence of the referendum] (not enough PR).”
The 140 voters (for and against) represent approximately 0.013% of all possible voters, an extremely poor turnout.
Amr Fathy, speaker of the Senate, emphasizes a general lack of awareness of the constitution by the general student body as a cause for the poor turnout, adding that the Student Senate Public Opinion Committee is currently tasked with a constitution awareness campaign, which aims to inform the AUC student body about their constitution.
“The Student Senate shall design and print the current AUC constitution to be distributed to the AUC student body.” Fathy said.
Another issue raised in the email, is the issue of representation. The email reads, “[t]he Constitution Formation Committee did not have full representation from all sectors of the student government.”
In response to the allegation, the Student Senate has recently formed a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) that is scheduled to review the current constitution in regards to representation. “This committee shall comprise of [sic] representatives from all three branches of the Student Government and AUC Student Body,” Fathy explains.
The new constitution also includes a clause that stipulates that amendments can only be passed after an entire year after the passing of the constitution. The SU however, argues that there exist some mistakes that must be addressed immediately.
“I would like to stress that this Constitution is not perfect,” Fathy explains, “however, the duties and powers of all branches are made such that they all complement one another.”
He continues, “Its [the new constitution’s] aim is to have all branches functioning together as one real Student Union…[one that is] accountable for its actions.”
Alaa however, advocates an altogether different version of the constitution. “A new constitution that would use both of them [newer and older constitutions] to ensure the best representation for all parties and to be as fair as possible,” he explains.
While some may agree with Alaa ,who believes we have gotten used to the old constitution instead of the new one which “is extremely new and different.”
Others may choose to embrace the change which Fathy regards as the “beauty” of the new constitution, adding that it “grants students all kinds of rights ranging from freedom of speech [to] association, [as well as entitling] student press to privacy…and [ensuring student] participation in policy and decision making.”