Student Council Elections 2022: Effective Governance in Action
LAU announces new student representatives and begins a new cycle of shared governance.
Close to 70 percent of LAU students cast their ballots and chose their new representatives for the Student Council, a shared governance model that the university had adopted since its early days, though the core of the experience is – and never was – limited to election day.
Leading up to October 7, the 50 young men and women who ran for the elections have had a busy schedule.
After being cleared for eligibility, the candidates attended interactive workshops, provided by the university and delivered by the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE), to help them prepare comprehensive electoral campaigns while developing their communication, public speaking and negotiation skills. Through the process, candidates practiced empathy, mediation, team building and conflict resolution.
These lessons in civic-mindedness, citizenship and serving others embody LAU’s mission of educating the whole person, as Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem points out. “Addressing accessibility to education, gender equality and student rights in a safe and democratic environment demonstrates effective governance in action and is a refreshing contrast to what we are witnessing in Lebanon today,” she added.
As elected student representatives “speak their peers’ language and share their concerns they are best suited to relay the feedback to the university’s leadership,” said Dean of Students on Byblos campus Jad Abdallah. For the first time this year, due to their increasing numbers and involvement on campus, graduates were able to run as well as vote.
Noting that LAU had been a pioneer in adopting online voting in 2016, Dean of Students on Beirut campus Raed Mohsen spoke about the benefits of this system. “It is both secure and efficient, as students – including those on exchange programs outside Lebanon – can vote from anywhere in the world,” he added, hoping more universities and institutions in Lebanon would follow suit.
Over the past year, the 2021 Student Council has been instrumental in negotiating and offering effective solutions to pressing issues, such as facilitating tuition payments amid the bank crisis in Lebanon, raising awareness against harassment, and enhancing shuttle services and road safety in the Byblos campus vicinity, among many other contributions.
The new student council, announced shortly after secure online voting was closed at 4:30 p.m., consists of 30 students who will go on to be the voices of their colleagues for the current academic year and ultimately benefit from the experience for years to come.
Congratulating all candidates on behalf of President Michel E. Mawad, Vice President for Administration Roy Majdalani said that this “exercise in democracy at LAU is a clear affirmation of higher education’s civic purpose.” He invited the new council members to accept, support, learn from and work with each other.