• 11:42
  • Wednesday ,16 October 2013

Why AUC needs a new constitution

By-Taher El Moataz Bellah-Dailynewsegypt



Wednesday ,16 October 2013

Why AUC needs a new constitution

The current structure of the student government with its three branches; the student union, the student senate and the student court (previously known as student judicial board) is greatly inspired by the Madisonian design of the US government that is named after the famous James Madison who was the architect behind the form of government in the American constitution, that aims not at producing greater efficiency, but rather focuses on pitting a power against power, with institutions monitoring instead of complementing each other. This system has severely reduced the efficiency of policy making and legislating, leading at many instances to political stalemate. This governmental gridlock results from too many institutions sharing power. This power is usually wasted because instead of it being invested in progressive solutions to meet the people’s demands, it is usually exerted to block other intuitions from their constitutional role and sacred duty of both serving and representing the people. The Madisonian system despite its critics was considered by many as the best form of western democracy because of its supposed immunity to the tyranny of the majority. However, now that the US government has shut down, sending one million unpaid federal employees to their homes after the republican controlled House of Representatives (the lower house in the bicameral congress) disapproved the budget  proposed by the democratic president because of their dislike to the health care reform (which is why Americans voted for Obama in the first place), it is time we start reconsidering the philosophy behind our current system of student government, through first having a closer look on our controversial student constitution.

The first problem of our student government is that it is called a student government. This fatal branding error gives the false illusion that students are running a government, we are not. The truth is AUC has only one government, it is called the administration, and the only president that should have his powers constantly checked and be held accountable in front of the AUC community, is AUC president Lisa Anderson, not SU president Ahmed Attallah. Students despite being the most important faction are only one faction among many. Student unions were historically formed in order to represent students in front of the administration and later evolved into a platform for national politics on and off campus in addition to adding the peripheral roles of both servicing and entertaining the students. I am claiming that the most important role of any student union is representation because other roles such as service, development and entertainment can be offered by other clubs and organisations on campus, while representation cannot. In 2003 a former SU president wanted to improve the SU’s representation ability and widen its scope, He asked for the formation of a student senate that would have elected representatives from each department in order to have a stronger and more efficient SU. The primary role was not to legislate, as there weren’t any legislation needed as the case is now due to the fact that we are in a university that only needs a single document outlining the rights and responsibilities of student organisations which is the student constitution, not in a mini country that needs detailed laws and procedures. This role has become of a political nature after the senate has impeached the SU president in 2010 and thus subjected him to a public referendum in which he lost, thus the students’ and camps’ interest in the student senate has started to rise, now that it has a power over the SU, shifting the paradigm of students regarding the student senate from an institution that complements the SU, into an institution that can overthrow it, marking the beginning of a whole new era, an era where students fought each other instead of fighting for each other, and became so immersed in the greatest political storm inside a cup of tea.
A year afterwards, a group of senators decided that AUC needs a new student constitution that further empowers the senate and mimics the supposedly infallible system of the US government. The constitution was subject to public referendum on the last day of classes and had a very low voting turnout, yet it was approved and immediately ratified. It was no surprise that a constitution written by the senate will favour the senate above all. Now the senate has the power to confirm the cabinet members, then later to impeach them, has the power to disapprove the budget, then later to impeach the president, has the power to monitor every single official and student organisation on campus, with no one who can question their disguised impotence and frequent underperformance. However, the single best thing about this constitution is that it created associations that act like student unions of the departments. Now that departments are represented, and after the SU has ended with varying budget deficits except for last year that did not include a mega party, the question is why do we still have a student senate in its current form that is prone to power show offs and endless camps quarrels. Why do we insist on virtual simulation instead of focusing on serving students, and why are we so fond of the American way even when the Americans are fed up of this way themselves? AUC needs a different constitution that includes a student council instead of the student senate with the membership of all the presidents of clubs and associations that would only meet to discuss problems pertaining to the student body, and would be based on direct instead of representative democracies. Critical times require radical change.
From - Dailynewsegypt