We come to you this year with a set of concrete projects ready to be submitted by our representatives upon their election. We will aim at achieving them through student involvement and support throughout the year, by the creation of student committees, open for all students to work alongside their representative to achieve these core demands.
10 years of experience in student activism and 6 years of involvement in the USFC has made us aware of the structural challenges that limit the role and power of our USFC.
Far from being an independent and autonomous student entity, the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) suffers from the direct interference of the administration and faculty members members, and thus fails to properly represent the student body and consistently act in its interest.
- The VP cannot call for official meetings and cannot proceed with a meeting agenda without the approval of the Dean of Student Affairs (Article IX, Paragraph 3). This results in the complete dependence of USFC meetings upon the Dean’s schedule and in the omission of students’ proposals and items of discussion from the agenda at the Dean’s whim.
- The USFC has limited prerogatives and is excluded from major decisions that have significant impact on students, such as increases in tuition fees.
- Although the USFC has a considerable budget, there are strict restrictions on how the budget can be used.
Last year, several the Dean only called 12 meetings, while there should have been at least 24 meetings according to the USFC Bylaws (Article XII), and not a single meeting was held during the Summer Term. Additionally, several proposals submitted to serve student interests were not added to the agenda by the Dean.
Thus, the administration’s control of the USFC and the involvement of faculty members severely compromise student autonomy and participatory governance at AUB.
It is time for us to demand our rightful autonomous representation.
Our vision is to transform the USFC into an independent Student Council, that is composed only of students, has extended prerogatives that allow it to effectively work for student rights, and allows all AUB students to contribute firsthand to its work through Student Committees.
We believe that the following conditions are necessary for an effective Independent Student Council:
- The President and the Dean of Student Affairs and Faculty members should not chair or attend Student Council meetings. Coordination with the administration would occur through special meetings that are set to discuss common issues.
- The Student Council agenda should be exclusively set by student representatives, and announced to all AUB students ahead of time.
- The Student Council should be included in the decision-making process of the Board of Trustees in matters that relate to the students and directly affects them.
- Constraints on the Student Council budget should be revised to fit the needs of students.
- Student Committees open to all AUB students should be establish, through which students work directly with their representatives on proposals and projects.
You can read more about the proposal on aubsecular.club/p1
In the past 10 years, AUB’s undergraduate tuition has increased by over 90% on average for all majors. Increases in tuition fees should be regulated, and the rights of students should be safeguarded.
Students should know the exact and total amount of money they have to pay until they graduate. Therefore, we propose the Financial Student Contract, a binding agreement between the administration and each student that would enable returning students to maintain a fixed tuition fee throughout the duration for completing their degree.
Any increase in tuition fees on new students should be discussed with elected representatives. We believe that the administration should organize mandatory consultations with student representatives in the beginning of the academic year, in case it intends to increase to tuition fees. It should provide clear financial arguments to justify this increase, and provide full access to AUB finances to students representatives.
Students from different faculties should not be expected to pay different prices for the same course. This is what happens with the 33 to 36 credits of general education requirements distributed among Communication Skills, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Quantitative Thought. We therefore propose that major GE required courses have a fixed credit rate different from that of the required/elective in major courses.
You can read more about the proposal on aubsecular.club/p2
While a lively student life is characteristic of the AUB experience, it remains heavily controlled by the Students Affairs Office (SAO) which imposes restrictive rules and regulations on the activities of clubs and societies, often including preemptive censorship measures.
You can read more about the proposal on aubsecular.club/p3
Clubs/societies need the SAO to facilitate access to their financial statements and accounts and their membership database. They must also seek the approval of the SAO to organize any kind of event, including solidarity stands and distribution of flyers. Activities often take weeks to be approved through the SAO’s bureaucratic process. In addition, the SAO very often censors the content of activities, which violates our freedom of expression, right to assembly, and freedom of political mobilization.
Our vision for the student body calls for:
- Giving clubs and societies the ability to freely organize activities and events, as well as total control over their funds without prior consent from the SAO, while abiding by clear guidelines against any form of hate-speech or discrimination.
Protecting the right of students to mobilize peacefully on campus, whether through sit-ins or on campus protests, by drafting a charter that guarantees the fundamental rights of students to organize and mobilize for their rights.
While we acknowledge the efforts made by the university towards quality education, we believe that we deserve a better education that matches the size of the financial investment, we as students, make in the university.
We believe that the quality of education should be the same irrespective of the major student enroll in, and this should be reflected by similar financial investments in all fields of study. We believe that AUB should revise its investment priorities by prioritizing quality education across majors, as well as research, instead of prioritizing lucrative activities.
Below we present concrete suggestions to enhance our educational experience:
Increasing Capacity in Major Courses, Elective Options, and the Faculty-Student Ratio
Students have the right to find capacity in their major courses. Adequate financial investments should be made by the university to open more sections to cover student needs. Students should have more options for elective courses within their major, in order to tailor their degrees to specific tracks or specialties. Finally, increasing the number of professors would enhance students’ experience in courses, and would also diversify the areas of expertise within departments.
Equitable Access to Internships
Students are suffering from an increasingly small and competitive job market where employers expect work experience even for entry-level jobs. Unlike students in other faculties, MSFEA and OSB students regularly receive from their career centers emails about internship opportunities. The inequitable access to internships calls for increasing the access of students to internships while simultaneously making sure such opportunities exist in varied fields.
We propose establishing an Alumni Internship Program which would ask AUB Alumni in all fields to provide internships to AUB students and serve as an intermediary between interested students and companies. Also, we propose following the model of the AUB MRVP to create other programs that bring together students from all majors and researchers on research projects.
Faculty Specific Undergraduate Research Journals
In line with the commitment of AUB to fostering an intellectual community on campus and with the University’s mission “to participate in the advancement of knowledge through research”, we propose the establishment of three student-led, undergraduate research journals for :one for the arts, social sciences and humanities, one for engineering and another for the disciplines traditionally referred to as “sciences”. Undergraduate students would be editors and Graduate students would form the community of reviewers. These journals would complement the already existing centers and initiatives that seek to foster research among the AUB community and put AUB on the map of leading universities (UCLA, MIT, …) who offer their undergraduates opportunities to publish and learn.
You can read more about the proposal on aubsecular.club/p4
This work can’t be done without you, so our USFC members will create committees that you can join to work firsthand with elected representatives on student demands. Sign up for these committees by emailing us on [email protected] or through our Facebook page.
You can also sign up for our Subcommittees here: https://goo.gl/forms/GXnRxoaX18reoeNA2