Every year, election fever plagues campus for a few weeks in November. From campaign days to sudden activity on the AUB Guru to newfound best friends, candidates are suddenly all over the place, with vests on and platforms in hand.
When elections have come and gone, students often complain about the inactivity of the elected committees, whether on an SRC (Student Representative Committee) or a USFC (University Student Faculty Committee) level.
This year, like every year, representatives have promised the student body that things will be different. Issam Chmaytelli, current USFC Vice President, says he is working hard to ensure that.
The first step towards change is accountability, and the new USFC are well aware of that. Chmaytelli believes the first step towards accountability is transparency. In line with this, the USFC hopes to relaunch its monthly “Newsletter,” a publication about USFC activities and updates that was last published in 2010.
After being elected in November, the USFC has been pretty idle so far. “We’ve had two meetings so far, one before and one after the break,” Chmaytelli explained. “Progress was slow because of the long break, and we hadn’t elected our active committees yet; the finance, PR and bylaws committees. Now they’re ready to go.”
Chmaytelli also gave other justifications for delays that take place at the level of USFC action. “The USFC does not hold any executive power, meaning we can not execute any of our ideas. Instead, we present them to the University Senate, made up of faculty and staff,” he said. “For the most part, they’re responsive but the process makes things a little slower to happen.”
The Vice President went on to praise this year’s committee.“We’re all passionate and we bring different opinions to the table, but we discuss things diplomatically and work together harmoniously. It’s been great so far.”
The student body, however, is more interested in knowing what to expect from its representatives. Chmaytelli gave a general explanation of the USFC agenda, including topics such as extending the closing time of dorm gates, trying to find a solution for the timeless parking issue, increasing the activity of the sports department, and freezing the tuition increase.
“AUB used to host all kinds of athletic competitions but it has been a little quiet lately,” he elaborated. “Also, sports teams used to travel every year, but last year a handful of teams didn’t get to do that.”
Referring to the much-debated issue of tuition increase, he said, “We’re currently working on freezing the increase. Last year’s strike was considered a success by many, but we didn’t really achieve our goal. The tuition has become too much of a financial burden on current and future students.”
Chmaytelli also pointed out accomplishments that the representative committee has been able to achieve untill now. “There was some confusion about the payment of fees, with the initial deadline on Jan. 16. We voiced the students’ concerns and the deadline was pushed back till after drop and add ended.” He also credited the FAS SRC, who worked hand-in-hand with the USFC to ensure Nicely was open 24/7 to students during the Fall reading period.
Chmaytelli was generally very positive about the way this year’s committee has been working. With the potential release of the Newsletter once again, he hopes to keep the student body constantly updated and maintain complete transparency. He also agreed to a follow-up meeting in a few weeks where he would discuss progress updates.