Our Work for Student Rights and Demands

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM

Changes to USFC & SRC bylaws

  • In 2012-­13, we revamped the entire USFC bylaws. The major changes made included:
    • Attendance became mandatory and recorded in the meeting minutes.
    • Regular bi­weekly meetings were initiated.
    • A system was created for the Public Relations, Bylaws, and Financial Committees to meet regularly.
    • The electoral law was amended to have students directly elect their USFC representatives.
  • In 2015-16, Campus Choice representatives submitted a proposal to shorten the time for meeting minutes to be approved and released from two weeks to one week through implementing an online circular vote. They also proposed to make voting decisions public, but this proposal did not get a majority vote.
  • Also in 2015-16, several suggestions for a new electoral law were proposed in the USFC. Campus Choice representatives pushed towards a proportional system for fair representation, which was adopted and finalized by the USFC bylaws committee.
  • In 2016-17, Campus Choice representatives in the FHS SRC drafted bylaws for their committee, which were approved by two-thirds of the SRC but halted in the USFC at the end of the semester.
  • In 2017-2018 we submitted a proposal to the creation of an implementation subcommittee to continue the work of previous USFCs. This committee follows up with previously accepted proposals and makes sure they get implemented on a university-wide level. This proposal was not added to the agenda.

Pushing for transparency

  • In 2013-­14, Campus Choice representatives archived and publicized the USFC meeting minutes for the years 2010­-11, 2011­-12, 2012-­13, which were previously inaccessible online.
  • In 2015-16, representatives of Campus Choice suggested for the USFC to hold regular town hall meetings with the student body, which was not implemented.

Enhancing communication with the student body

  • In 2015-16, Campus Choice representatives in the FAFS SRC launched a Facebook page where all the meeting minutes and announcements were published, and where students could give feedback and suggestions. In 2016-17, the FAS SRC followed suit.
  • In 2016-17, Campus Choice USFC members submitted several proposals to enhance the USFC website, hold town hall meetings, reactivate the weekly USFC newsletter in Outlook, and hold open house meetings where any student can come to the USFC office to ask questions and give suggestions. Some were approved, some were stalled for the whole year, and others were voted down by the USFC.

Allocating budget to the SRC

  • In 2015-16, Campus Choice representatives proposed allocating $10,000 from the USFC budget to SRCs, in order to increase the independency of the SRCs and give flexibility for expenditures without requiring USFC approval. This proposal was approved and implemented.

ACADEMIA

Making previouses publicly available

  • In 2017-18, we submitted a proposal to make all previouses and test banks for all AUB courses readily available on the University Libraries website. The proposal was unanimously approved and implementation requires follow up.

Establishing the FAFS Advising Unit

  • In 2012­-13, a new advising unit was established in FAFS to allow students to raise their concerns and ensure that they are addressed by their departments.

Improving curricula and expanding departments

 

  • In 2016-17, our FAFS USFC representative worked with the chairperson of the Nutrition and Food Science department on improving the curriculum based on students’ requests and suggestions.

 

  • In 2016-17, SRC and USFC representatives from the Psychology Department partnered with the Psychology Student Society to push for a change in curriculum and to increase capacity, which was not approved by the department. However, the demands for adding new courses and new faculty members were achieved.
  • In 2017-2018 our FM USFC pushed for the integration of LGBT directed healthcare in collaboration with SCORA in the FM curriculum.

Enhancing the registration process

  • In 2014-15, we submitted a proposal to the USFC for a waiting list system during registration. In following years, similar proposals were submitted by various student representatives, and the IT department has been working on several different solutions taking feedback from many students, faculty, and staff.
  • In 2016-17, we submitted a proposal to the USFC for course syllabi of to be available on AUBsis before registration opens, for students to know exactly what they are signing up for ahead of time, which would also reduce the issues with capacity and drop/add. This is being partially implemented and requires follow-up.

Grading system

  • In Fall 2016, the administration had planned a change from percentage-based grading to letter-based grading, which in its original form would have had negative side effects of decreasing the GPA (over 4.0) of most AUB students. Campus Choice representatives launched a petition to stop the GPA Equivalency Proposal, which was successful and led to the creation of a new task force to find a better system, and the administration assured students that they would be informed before any decision is final. The new grading policy requires follow-up from student representatives.

Graduate assistantships

  • In 2014-15, our graduate SRC representatives conveyed students’ demands for reforming the GA and GRA policies, defining the roles of GAs and GRAs, and increasing their stipends. In 2016-17, with the administration’s abrupt decision to revoke stipends, our graduate representatives met with the Provost’s Office and other administrators to negotiate the decision. They held several town hall meetings to share their progress with graduate students, which sparked the current campaign for these demands. The campaign led by many graduate students has been successful in reinstating stipends for Fall 2017, and in being involved with drafting a new policy. The new GA and GRA policy requires follow-up from student representatives.
  • In 2017-2018, our graduate student representatives participated in drafting a new GA & GRA policy to push for a fair and just assistantship system in coordination with graduate students, the Boldly G-AUB campaign, the Provost’s Office, and different AUB departments. A new policy was adopted and came into effect in the beginning of Fall 2018-19.

AFFORDABLE EDUCATION

Tuition fees

  • In 2013­-14, the administration had planned a tuition increase of 9%. After negotiations led by USFC VP & Treasurer Jinane Abi Ramia and Tala Kammourieh on one hand, and the administration on the other, paralleled with pressure and protests from the student body, the increase was reduced to 3% for current students and to 5% for new students.
  • In 2015-16, the administration had planned a 7% increase in the Faculty of Medicine, unlike the fixed 3% in the rest of the campus. Our FM USFC Jamal Al Ali mobilized students to boycott paying the tuitions and succeeded in bringing down the increase to 3%, as well as offering more financial aid to reduce the impact of the increase.
  • In 2017-2018 we pushed for establishing a financial student contract for all current students .This student contact freezes the tuition fees for ongoing students, until they complete their degree. We also demanded that the newly accepted students are informed of the full amount that should be paid to complete their degree. This proposal was submitted twice and it was not added to the agenda.

Financial Management Committee

  • In 2013-14, our USFC representatives successfully pushed to form a Financial Management Committee, chaired by the Provost, to address budget mismanagement and put a proper budget plan for AUB.

Financial aid

  • In 2016-17, USFC member Ali Amhaz took initiative in reintroducing the Fingerprints Project to the USFC and worked with other USFC members to officially propose it. The Fingerprints Project matches every $1 donated by a graduating student with $1 from the USFC budget and $2 from a Trustee.

FACILITIES AND SERVICES

Study Spaces

  • In 2015-16, Campus Choice representatives submitted a comprehensive proposal to extra Nicely classrooms until 1 am. The proposal was approved as a trial and is currently and was implemented in Spring 2017. The proposal also suggested opening Nicely 24/7 during the reading period, which has been done since Spring 2016. This has been partially implemented over the past years and requires follow-up.
  • In 2016-17, a similar proposal was submitted to the FEA Dean’s Office to open IOEC classrooms during the reading period. This has also been partially implemented and requires follow-up.
  • In 2017-2018, Campus Choice USFC submitted a proposal to publish classroom schedules of all classrooms. Implementation is underway and needs the collaboration of all departments.

Student lounges

  • In 2015-16, Campus Choice representatives submitted a comprehensive proposal to the FHS Dean’s Office to initiate building a graduate lounge at the Faculty of Health Sciences. In Spring 2017, the lounge was opened.

Counseling Center

  • In Spring 2016, Secular Club members submitted a highly detailed report about the status of the AUB Counseling Center as compared to that of other universities, students’ concerns and recommendations towards it, and our own research-based solutions to improving the Counseling Center. Tangible improvements have been made, such as initiatives towards making mental health in AUB more receptive, expanding the space of the center and making it more private, and hiring a new mental health professional.

Student housing

  • In 2013-­14, the USFC ensured that dorms residents could stay during the inter­-semester breaks if they had valid reasons. The cost of stay during this break was also reduced from $10 per night to $100 for the entire  break. Free storage space was secured, and it was ensured that graduating students would not pay any fees for staying in dorms until graduation.
  • In Summer 2016, the administration informed male dorms residents two months prior to the beginning of the semester that Penrose will close for renovation in the upcoming year, and students have to find other accommodation. The Secular Club launched a petition, the demands of which were to postpone the Penrose Project one semester to allow students more time, to provide decent options for alternatives, and to provide financial aid for those who could not find affordable housing. While the petition’s demands were not fully implemented, the SAO did provide alternative housing for some students.
  • In Spring 2017, Campus Choice representatives held a town hall meeting with women’s dorms residents to evaluate the living situation, and drafted a detailed report with all the issues as well as recommended solutions. The report was submitted to the Student Housing Office and the Physical Plant, which implemented some of the recommendations.
  • In 2017-2018 our FM USFC pushed for rendering Med Students eligible for student housing. This proposal was not added to the agenda by the dean of student affairs.

Renovations and maintenance

  • In 2016-17, our FAFS SRC representatives submitted a proposal to renovate the Reynolds Building bathrooms, which was approved and implemented.
  • In 2016-17, our USFC and SRC Architecture & Design representatives submitted a proposal to refurbish the department, which was approved but is not yet fully implemented.
  • In 2016-17, our FAS representatives submitted to the FAS Dean’s Office proposals to grant social science students ID access to the social science lab and to install regular electricity sockets in Nicely and other FAS buildings. This is being gradually implemented with the renovation of Nicely classrooms, and installing ID access requires follow up.

Cafeteria services

  • In 2016-17, Campus Choice USFC Nadine Harb coordinated with the AUBMC Cafeteria Management to publish the weekly menus online, and to open the cafeteria until 7 pm for a trial period. This needs follow up in upcoming years.

CAMPUS AND STUDENT LIFE

Research conference for graduate students

  • In 2014­-15, graduate SRC representatives, in collaboration with the Graduate Student Society, organized a research conference in which graduate students across AUB presented their work, and new graduates students were introduced to research and thesis methodologies. The conference included awards for the best presentation. The conference was held annually for 3 years.

Safety and security

  • In Spring 2014, there was a rise in petty theft and attacks in the Hamra area. Our USFC representatives took initiative with the Protection Office to ensure that security guards accompany students to their homes or to their cars in Hamra in the night. This service is still offered today for any student who requests it.
  • In Fall 2015, Secular Club members submitted a detailed report to the administration about the violations to student safety permitted last year during elections, and proposed practical solutions to limit such violations, such as reorganizing the barriers to the entrance of the voting booths, sending a notice to students about verbal harassment and intimidation, and increasing the number of guards during campaigning.
  • In 2015-16, our USFC representative Reem Abou Ibrahim worked consistently with the Dean of Student Affairs to lay out a plan for installing AED machines all over campus. The Champs Fund implemented the plan in 2016-17 after other student representatives followed up and proposed similar plans.
  • In 2017-2018 our FM USFC pushed for establishing a Title IX student task force in the Faculty of Medicine.

Clubs and societies’ rights

  • In Fall 2015, Secular Club members a comprehensive proposal to the Dean of Student Affairs on allocating space for student clubs in West Hall, which was always a lively hub for student activities, and today cannot accommodate active clubs. In 2016-17 there was follow-up on the issue and tangible solutions were provided, such as making use of the space on the 4th floor as shared offices between active clubs. Although the proposal was met positively by the SAO, it is not yet implemented.
  • Our Campus Choice USFCs pushed for automation the access to the balance sheet of the clubs in 2017-2018.The process of requesting balance sheets of university clubs is currently bureaucratic, lengthy, and non-transparent. Cabinet members who need information about yearly operating expenses currently only have access to the remaining money in the club/society’s account, without access to the club account’s detailed balance sheet.

Temporary services

  • In Spring 2017, we ensured that Penrose Gate would open at dawn during Ramadan for the souhour.

Eco-friendly initiatives

  • In 2016-17, we worked with the University Libraries to ensure that the default option for printing was double-sided, which is both cheaper for students and better for the environment.
  • In 2017-2018, our Campus Choice USFCs pushed for setting up drinking water fountains on campus. The system is already in place in MSFEA, and implementing it in other faculties requires a follow-up.

Student activities

  • In 2016-17, we proposed holding a USFC Logo Competition among AUB students, which included monetary prizes for the winner and the runner-up. A new USFC logo was adopted.

Transportation

  • In 2016-17, our representatives involved in the preliminary planning and brainstorming meeting with all AUB stakeholders under the COO’s Office to design a sustainable transportation plan for the AUB community, and we later liaised with a startup to include carpooling in a potential plan and advised another startup regarding providing shuttle bus services.
  • In 2017-18, our USFC representatives demanded longer shuttle bus hours between lower and upper campus. Implementation requires follow-up with the Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management Department

Marketplace

  • In 2017-2018, our Campus Choice USFCs pushed for establishing Library space for sale/exchange of books.

SECULAR CLUB EVENTS

  • Spring 2014: “Religion Addresses Secularism”
  • Fall 2014: Campaign for Civil Marriage at AUB
  • Spring 2015: Sakker El Dekkene campaign at AUB
  • Fall 2015: “Protests and Prospects”, a panel discussion with Jad Chaaban, Samer Frangie and Abbas Saad
  • Spring 2016: “Know Your Rights” campaign
  • Fall 2016: “From Student Activism to Municipal Elections: A Story of Beirut Madinati”
  • Fall 2016: “Saret Khadra” campaign for reducing, reusing, and recycling
  • Spring 2017: “Creative Uprisings” exhibition on the Arab Spring
  • Spring 2018: “The Intersection between Sectarianism & Patriarchy,” a panel discussion with Nadine Mouawad and Sara Mourad
  • Spring 2018: “Lebanese Economy: Questioning the Model”, a panel discussion with Mohamad Zbeeb and Nassib Ghobril
  • Annually in April: Civil War Memorial Week

IMPACT OFF CAMPUS

  • Spring 2010: Participation in the campaign to the sect from the Lebanese identity attestation (Ekhraj Kaid) and the personal records.
  • Spring 2010: Participation in the campaign and demonstrations calling for a civil marriage law in Lebanon.
  • Spring 2010: Participation in the first Laique Pride march.
  • Spring 2011: Participation in the اسقاط النظام الطائفي demonstrations.
  • Spring 2012: Participation in the second Laique Pride march.
  • Summer 2013: Participation in the demonstrations of لا للتمديد against the illegal extension of the Lebanese Parliament’s mandate.
  • Spring 2014: Participation in Kafa’s successful demonstrations in calling for a law against domestic violence.
  • Summer 2015: Participation in the civil movement sparked by the garbage crisis.
  • Fall 2015: Organization of a student demonstration at the Hobeish police station to protest police violence used to suppress demonstrations.
  • Spring 2016: Involvement in substantial roles in Beirut Madinati, the campaign for Beirut’s municipal elections.
  • Spring 2017: Co-organization of the International Women’s Day March.
  • Spring 2017: Involvement in volunteering for Naqabati, the campaign for the Order of Engineers and Architects syndicate elections.
  • Summer 2018: Participation in the Migrant Workers’ Day Parade.
  • Spring 2018: Co-organization of the International Women’s Day March.
  • Summer 2018: Participation in the International Migrant Domestic Workers’ Day.