Each year, Student Council elections take place at the Lebanese American University (LAU). They are mostly dominated by March 8th and March 14th, the two major Lebanese political parties, defying the initial purpose of the council members , which is to work for a better LAU campus. Each of these parties has its own student club that represents it and rallies for its relatively-irrelevant ideology. These political clubs have detailed lists of LAU students’ contact information that they use in order to bully people to vote for them, and to predict their wins/losses. March 8th and 14th are very keen on ‘influencing’ the young generation of university students, since they are the future voters in Lebanon. Personally, as an independent, I had to vote with a blank paper due to the lack of independent runners at the Byblos campus.
A couple of days ago, I receive some interesting WhatsApp chats from someone who is not one of my close friends. Here is how the conversation went:
First, for those who do not know, no LAU political science professor would be interested in having such a survey, not to mention by students, on WhatsApp!
What would be the purpose of this super-creative survey anyways? Not to mention LAU’s constant and hectic efforts to avoid political tensions and slogans on its campuses. Just to make sure, I asked some people from that department and the answer was a strong “NO!“, as expected.
Then why was this person telling me a blatant lie to get to know my political affiliation, you might ask? (while limiting me to March 8th and 14th – He’s just that smart.)
The answer is quite simple, and quiet obvious to LAU Byblos students.
Another similar incident occurred prior to the elections day. I received a call from someone identifying himself as a ‘Shirket i7sa2at’ (or ‘Statistics Agency’) asking me which area I am from. I ended the call. I do not know the caller, I do not know the number, but I do know the intentions.
LAU political clubs live on their statistics. They live on constantly pressuring people to vote for them. You are not a student, you are just one number they could add or deduct from their expected and carefully-calculated elections results.
These clubs are witty. They have the names and numbers of all students under all LAU schools. Are you a student in Engineering? Arts & Sciences? What? Pharmacy? We got covered. We have your name, major, phone number, and political affiliation. Who knows, we might even have more information, like your address.
How do they get our contacts? Does LAU supply them with updated lists each year? Does this happen underground? Which LAU employee is responsible for this? It requires an investigation, and I hope LAU would look into this issue to preserve its integrity and image as an educational institution above all political polarization. How the hell am I expected to supply LAU with private and personal information after this?
Take a look at this:
Truth is: You can say “No“. You can say “Thanks, but no thanks.”You can vote with a blank paper if there were no independents running. All that is required is some courage. No worries, they will not harm or kill or rape you. They will just go along searching for another prey, and it would feel just amazing not to be one of those sheepish preys.
Let’s take a look at what the LAU bylaws say:
Members of the University are required to respect individuals’ rights to privacy and undertake to treat, in confidence, all information supplied to them on that basis. Unless required or permitted by law, personal and official information, provided by and about employees and students, must not be given to third parties without the consent of the individual concerned. – LAU Code of Ethics (Section D)
I do not have any hate for any specific person. All I vision to do is to raise some questions in people’s minds. It is to ultimately reach for a future where politics, warlords, the sheep mentality, and bribery, stay way away from simple university student council elections – The future which I believe each LAU student, deep down, would enjoy.