BEIRUT — Independent student groups at the American University of Beirut won 16 out of 20 seats in the student faculty council elections Friday, according to L'Orient Today's reporter present at the university as the results were published.
According to our reporter, independent group Change Starts Here won 11 seats and the Secular Club won 5, while the establishment parties won four seats, distributed as follows: Amal, two seats; Hezbollah, one; and the Free Patriotic Movement, one. Multiple Sources from Change Start Here told L’Orient Today that in this election, they allied with Jamaa Islamiya which represented two of the seats won by the group.
Before the results were announced, independent groups could be heard shouting “thawra thawra thawra” and “down with the rule of the corrupt,” popular chants during Oct. 17, 2019, protests. Similarly, Amal supporters were heard shouting slogans praising Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Speaking to L'Orient Today, the head of the election campaign at the Change Starts Here group, Nadim Hmede said, “I am proud to say that this year we won 11 seats to become the largest bloc in the university student faculty council, to prove that AUB remains and is the sanctuary for political independence in Lebanon."
Asked what the council's goals are now that the group has won, Hmede said that they will "respond to the students’ demands, like [for a] different kind of financial aid because Lebanon is suffering from an economic crisis" — a reference to the unprecedented economic crisis that Lebanon has been suffering from for the past three years.
Earlier this month, a student election took place at the Lebanese American University's faculties in Jbeil and Beirut. In Beirut, Amal won five seats, Hezbollah won three, the independents won four and the Lebanese Forces won three. Meanwhile, in Jbeil, the Lebanese Forces won 10 out of 15 seats, the Free Patriotic Movement won four and it remains unclear to which party the last seat went.
In Notre Dame University, the Debate Club, which is affiliated with the Lebanese Forces, won 22 seats whereas the Discovery Club, affiliated with Kataeb, won two seats, the university administration announced in a statement Thursday.