The Secular Club and independent student groups on Saturday won the majority of seats in the student councils of 12 faculties at Saint Joseph University (USJ) in Beirut, with the Secular Club winning in seven faculties and the independents in five. In nine other faculties, the Lebanese Forces recorded wins in Sunday's annual student elections. Student groups affiliated with the Kataeb party on the one hand and with the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah and Amal on the other, each won a majority of seats in one faculty.
According to Adam Zorkot, a third-year law student at Huvelin Street campus (where the faculties of law, political science and management are located), the Secular Club, of which he is a member, won the presidency of seven of the 10 faculties in which it presented lists of candidates. Of these seven faculties, five were won outright, with no partisan candidate running against the club's list. This was the case in the faculties of occupational therapy and speech therapy, the institute of political science, the Lebanese school of social training and the North Lebanon campus, which includes four faculties. The members of the Secular Club also won in the faculty of nursing and the faculty of law and political science.
The independents won the majority of seats, and thus the presidency of the student councils, in five faculties.
On social networks, the LF hailed what they considered to be their victory in "a majority" of faculties.
In a statement issued after the elections, the USJ administration praised the high voter turnout of 75.01 percent.
Collaboration between the Secular Club and the independents
Elissa Bou Nader, a member of the Secular Club and elected president of the student council of the Huvelin Street campus, was pleased with the turnout, which amounted to 84 percent for these faculties. "Our work will focus mainly on raising funds to help students unable to pay their university fees and on protecting students against any decision from the faculty management in case a person is unable to pay his or her tuition due to the economic crisis that the country is going through," she told L'Orient-Le Jour.
Charbel Chaaya, former president of the Secular Club, welcomed the victory in Huvelin. He said that this year, "the Secular Club did not run against the independents in the faculties where the latter have applied so that they have more chances to win." Chaaya also noted that "Hezbollah and the Amal Movement ordered students to vote blank in the faculties where none of their members ran."
For the second year in a row, no tension was recorded on the Huvelin campus during these student elections, while fights between representatives of different political parties had regularly taken place in previous years.
On Friday, independent student groups from the American University of Beirut won 16 of the 20 seats in the university faculty student council elections. At the University of Notre Dame, the LF-affiliated Debate Club won 22 seats, while the Kataeb-affiliated Discovery Club won two. At the Lebanese American University's Beirut campus, the Amal Movement won five seats, Hezbollah three, the independents four and the Lebanese Forces three. While on its Jbeil campus, the LF won 10 of the 15 seats and the FPM won four.