Contributions by Youmna Mroue and Juliette Jabra
Moustafa Tabbarah – University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) representative from the Faculty of Engineering who ran under the Leaders of Tomorrow campaign – spoke to Outlook regarding his views on the USFC’s achievements, and their plans for the coming year.
Tabbarah is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, and is Member-at-Large of the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) at AUB. He has had an eclectic extracurricular life at AUB – joining The Lebanese Red Cross Club during his sophomore year, running for a student council position in last year’s elections, and successfully obtaining a seat on the USFC in the current academic year.
Ultimately, Tabbarah says he is interested in serving others and making an impact in people’s lives. He cites his mother as his inspiration to carry out efforts to give back to his community.
Within the USFC, Tabbarah is set to serve on the University Committee on Student Affairs – a University Senate Committee on which student members of the USFC are elected as representatives – during the last six months of the current USFC’s term.
The competition between the different campaigns results in tension during election week. How are your relations with each other after that week is over?
The tension ends after the elections. We have good connections together. We even became best friends with members who were running in campaigns against us. However, we still disagree on some points and vote against some proposals.
What are the proposals that have been presented during USFC meetings so far?
Until now, there has only been one proposal presented, and that is the one by USFC member Sarah Farran, who is a medical student and who ran independently. Her proposal is centered around solving the issue of the Health Insurance Plan (HIP) for medical students. Round three of the elections came late last semester and we didn’t have enough time for other proposals, so the Spring semester will witness intense work from all the USFC members.
What did you do, as USFC members, in order to solve the Graduate Assistant and stipend issue?
We as USFC students were one hand. We were working on two things: revoking the Dean’s Warnings and restoring the GAships. We participated in the demonstrations and we formed a committee of students and instructors who were ready to discuss the situation with the administration. However, the issue has been solved now, and did not require interference from the committee formed.
How are you connecting with the student body?
Some students speak directly to me and I have already sent proposals in order to solve their issues. In addition, they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for their suggestions. They are also welcome to drop by our office in West Hall to meet the cabinet members: Myra Zeineddine, Farah Baba and Mohammad Khalaf.
What do you want to achieve on both personal and university levels after this experience?
On the university level, I want to start with achieving the small goals such as installing vending machines near classes and upgrading SRB computers, and end with achieving much larger goals.
On the personal level, I have already learned great professional skills, despite the few meetings that have taken place between USFC members. Working with highly qualified instructors and students pushes me to be more professional. I want to always aim high, as I am doing now. I want to continue working on issues that concern the community.
It is often the case in Lebanon that voting for a candidate comes down to his or her political and religious backgrounds rather than his or her capabilities and goals. How applicable is that to the AUB community?
It does exist at AUB that students vote for a candidate because of her or his political affiliations. However, many people from different cultural and political backgrounds voted for me because they believe in my capabilities to change and they are convinced by the realistic goals I am aiming for and setting.
What is your advice for new students?
I advise the new student to try as much as possible to understand the core of the major courses they are taking and to know how to apply them well in real-life situations.
On the non-academic level, I advise them to develop their skills, join clubs which match their interests, be involved in the student life, and invest in themselves because the extracurricular work is necessary for personal growth and for work opportunities in the future.
A quote that influences you?
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” – Eric Thomas
If you weren’t a Civil Engineer, what would you be?