Full elections and no appointment for University of Jordan’s student council

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Finally some good news. I just read in Al Ghad that the University of Jordan will hold full and democratic student elections this year instead of appointing half of the council. This came after Adnan Badran, the former prime minister and the current head of the National Center for Human Rights has sent a letter to the university’s administration asking them to do so.

Well its about time..

This “appointment” business was a real shame. We’re telling our youth “we don’t trust you to be democratic so we’re going to appoint half of your council and the head of the council as well”. What a joke.

I studied in the University of Jordan from 1988 to 1996 (yes it took me around 8 years to get my bachelors degree!). We always had full elections. It was only later that the democratic rights of the students were withdrawn and the appointment policy introduced.

During my days, the university administration did not allow students to form official blocks and only allowed them to compete in the elections as individuals. This resulted in a council was 90% dominated by the “Islamist” movement, which, at the time, was incredibly on the rise. Their “individuals” in their unofficial Islamist block used to get the highest votes and thus win almost all seats. You can imagine what a student council dominated by one political party looks like.. Very mono colored. They were totally conservative of course and they allowed no one to come up with any activities or ideas that do not conform to their ideology.

From personal experience, I know that had the elections been held on the basis of blocks and not individuals, competing blocks could have reaped up to 30% of the vote, which at least would have added some color to the council. At that time the “leftist” parties were in full retreat. There used to be another block called “Watan” which was widely seen as a puppet of the government. But there were interesting experiments here and there of democratic, moderate, seculars and liberals banding together and making some noise in the elections. Some independents sometimes won too.

These memories take me back to the mid 1990’s, i.e more than 13 years ago. It would be interesting to see what the students of the University of Jordan will do, now that they have their council back..


7 Responses to “Full elections and no appointment for University of Jordan’s student council”

  1. subzero Says:

    Dont worry it will have a twist inside. Coz if they make it 100% democratic, the majority of the council will be from the Muslim Ekhwan. The university dont want that. So they will add a twist to insure that wont occur.

  2. Nadine Says:

    This is very interesting and important. I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of types of people to get involved.

    How can communities around the students contribute – on/off campus?
    How can v/bloggers help raise the bar of dialog and debate and get students to ask some important questions?
    I have a feeling that if enough diverse conversations get out there this time round, something different might happen.

    How about dedicated ikbis/watwet election channels?

  3. Nadine Says:

    Actually, I think something remarkable will happen!

  4. Mude Says:

    Wait. A governing body which is part-elected, part-appointed? In Jordan? Really?

    “Jordan’s Senate has 55 Senators, all of whom are directly appointed by the King, while the House of Representatives has 80 elected members.”

    Careful, Ahmed. You may be summoned for a “visit” soon. ;) But I’ll jump in with you. What a joke, indeed.

  5. Fayez Says:

    Yir7am Ayyam IrRa’i Il-7urr! Good days they were indeed!

    I remember when the “brotherhood” planted an agent in our campaign who denounced us as Government funded ! When I challenged the morality of that decision, their leader “Labadi” responded : “Al7arbu Khud3a”

    Salma, if you’re out there, you’re still akbar gada3a I have ever known. It was extremely tough not to fall for you ;-) I wonder where on earth are you these days???

  6. Deena Says:

    I am almost scared to believe this story … to get my hopes up…in the fear an executive will overturn it in a few days/weeks….

    But I hope no such executive does. Because I really need some hope to hold on to.

    I am not sure the block electoral system will be the solution though, for the simple reason that I don’t feel a student union’s duty is to be ‘political’ as much as it is to look after the welfare of its students. Maybe if they introduced a system whereby you vote for students to assume certain roles, then islamists would naturally get voted for some positions and liberals for others. For example: A social secretary (who is responsible for organizing social events and activities), a communications secretary (responsible for media outlets that keep students up to date: website/ magazine/ newspaper…etc), sports secretary (responsible for overseeing sports activities) … and such!

    That way, those voted into the union would actually have a ‘job’ and an agenda they need to comply to – rather than just ‘make noise’ as a political entity.

  7. Ali Says:

    Hi, I posted a campaign about the Hate DVD distributed in the US (http://alidahmash.blogspot.com/2008/09/obsession-with-hate.html) appreciate if you can do the same

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