Inspired by London’s Hyde Park, AUB’s Speaker’s Corner is an impromptu platform for students to voice their unscripted opinions on a number of issues ranging from the BDS Movement to electoral politics.
Initially organized and run by the Student Council in 1969-1974, the Speaker’s Corner welcomes all students and offers them an outlet to directly communicate with the administration as well as their elected student representatives. It also serves as a semi-official medium to establish a set of demands on a number of day-to-day troubles as well as larger complications that students face including (but not limited to) study spaces, student housing, and tuition fee increases.
In the Spring of 2017, Outlook revived the Corner after its discontinuation during the Civil War, with a discussion on masked political representation on campus, a prominent and controversial issue debated regularly by students across faculties, particularly during elections.
The reinstatement of the Speaker’s Corner demonstrated the need for a student-oriented physical space tailored solely to informally engage with one another and openly speak about our political differences.
Although most students consider student elections to be the only form of mass student mobilization, the Speaker’s Corner is an assertion of exactly the opposite: that student politics holds the potential for the kind of mobilization that goes beyond elections and branches outside of the administration’s institutions.
Today, Outlook plans to coordinate the Speaker’s Corner, usually held between Ada Dodge and West Hall, on a regular basis. As we believe that the permanent reinstatement of the Speaker’s Corner requires momentum and continuity of practice, the platform will take place bi-weekly. Topics for the Corner will be chosen in accordance to the political, social, and academic climate on campus and will be selected from a diverse array of issues that the majority of students deem relevant.
As Outlook’s former Editor-in-Chief Laudy Issa affirmed in her article on the revival of the Speaker’s Corner last Spring, the ultimate goal of extending tolerance to those who do not share our principles can primarily occur through dialogue, and that is what we plan to do through the Speaker’s Corner.