Postponement of student union election stirs controversy
Student union representatives from several universities across Egypt - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Student union representatives from several universities across Egypt expressed their objection to a Supreme Council of Universities’ (SCU) decision Monday to postpone Student Union elections for this year.

Spokesperson for April 6 Movement university students Ahmed Shaaban was quoted by al-Ahram Tuesday as saying that the decision is “a blatant violation committed by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Supreme Council of Universities against the students’ rights to express their opinion and choose their representatives.”

Students affiliated with the 6 April Movement and other revolutionary powers in universities across Egypt are planning to explain to other students the repercussions of such decision, said Shaaban.

On Monday, the SCU ruled it would postpone student union elections to the next academic year because “the nomination period during which students should submit their candidacy has ended. Thus, if the election took place, it would be void according to the universities’ governing bylaws.”

The nomination period for candidacy should not be more than six weeks from the beginning of the academic year.

“The decision is politically orientated and indicates the weakness of the SCU and the state,” former member of the students union at Zaqaziq university Mohamed Amr told al-Ahram, adding that student union elections last year took place at the beginning of the second semester.

“The SCU is to be blamed for deliberately disrupting elections in the first semester under the pretext of security concerns,” Marwa Noufal, head of the student union at Ain Shams University, was quoted by al-Dostour Tuesday.

She added that since the beginning of the first semester in October 2014, they have called upon the SCU to establish a student union but “members of SCU spent the whole first semester in drafting the bylaws.”

The responsibility for any consequences resulting from delaying this year’s election process lies on the SCU and Minister of Higher Education, said Noufal, adding “as representatives of students, we want the elections to be held as soon as possible and we want the SCU to cancel its unjustified decision.”

Political Science Professor at Cairo University Layla Suef said that the Minister of Higher Education and SCU members “are ineligible” to take such a decision as it is the right of the students.

Students affiliated with 6 April Movement in Egyptian universities launched a signature gathering campaign to push the SCU to cancel its decision and hold the elections, according to Youm7.

University campuses witnessed frequent clashes between police and students during the last academic year; at least 14 students were killed in the violence and hundreds jailed for illegal protesting or participating in violence, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s Student Observatory.

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