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Ghina Al Fout 29 Nov 2015

University Elections 101: The Survival Guide

I remember my very first year of university, I was all happy and full of optimism; I felt as though my university was a safe place, disconnected of the outside world…until the student elections happened. Here is the low-down on election season in Lebanese universities:

1. Elections are political. I did not know that, and you won’t either because everything is subtle at the beginning – the secret color-coding, the student-centric names. Anyway, do not be fooled by what they promise you, it is just a big contest between the infamous March 8 and March 14 parties. Be weary of those who claim to be independent, but quickly reveal that they’re not.

2. The campaign people will stalk you. Yes, they will stalk you. You will suddenly receive phone calls on your private cellphone, on your landline, and Facebook messages asking you to vote for this or that. They have a full database of all students’ contact information. They will also personally accompany you to the voting station to make sure they have your vote and will double check whom you voted for once you’re done. Sick.

3. Hold on, it gets slightly creepier. These people are so desperate for your votes that they will offer you anything! Food, water, test-banks, phone recharge cards, you name it. They will even go the extent of sending you a private car to wherever you are to pick you up if you’re not on campus, just so you can vote (true story).

4. They will ask for your help to stalk other people, they’ll ask you to send them the names and phone numbers of people “like them.” If you love your friends, don’t do this to them.

5. Avoid passing by their campaign stands on campus. They have a tight grip and will not release you until they’re sure you’re voting for them. You will also witness some bickering and teasing and even chanting between the two groups on the stands. Run as fast as you can and hope no one approaches you.

6. If someone you met during your first week of classes suddenly adds you on Facebook three years later and wants to catch up or hang out…don’t fall for it, they just want your vote. Elections are like opening a pack of gum in class, everybody is suddenly your best friend.

7. Before the results get announced, the two parties will gather facing each other, they will cheer and chant the most politicized slogans you’ll ever hear on a university campus. You will be shocked, and you’ll keep wondering what politics have to do with university services and elections. You won’t get an answer.

8. Finally, you will never hear about the student body representatives until next year’s elections. No promises are ever kept and no expectations are fulfilled.