German University in Cairo students announced Monday the results of their unauthorized referendum, with majority approval of new bylaws for the university.
“Ninety six point five per cent approved the new bylaws, three per cent disapproved and 0.5 per cent nullified their votes,2082 out of 6000 GUC students voted” said Kareem Naguib, GUC student and organizser of the referendum, which was held in defiance of the university administration on Saturday and Sunday.
The results were submitted to the university administration, requesting their participation in organising student union elections in accordance with the new bylaws, according to Naguib. He told Daily News Egypt the administration has a one-week grace period to respond.
“If they do not respond, we shall organise the elections on our own as we have done with the referendum,” Naguib said.
The students have been demanding a change to the bylaws, drafted by the 2011 student union, since the January 2011 revolution. In 2012 a new student union was elected, in a much heavily election, without a change to the bylaws governing the union.
“We don’t recognise the current student union.” Amr Abdel Wahab, former student union president, said, “there isn’t a year group in the entire University that has not released a statement denouncing them.”
According to Naguib, only 40 people were willing to stand for one of the 147 seats in the 2012 student union elections. Only seven currently remain, as others have resigned since being appointed.
These seven do not recognise the results of this weekends referendum.
“It is a referendum done without notifying the administration; thus the administration does not recognise its results,” Hosny Al-Musallamani, vice-president of the 2012 student union said. “I went to its organisers and asked them to ask for the administration’s permission, yet they persisted in not requesting permission.”
Abdel Wahab said the 2011 student union has repeatedly requested permission from the administration to hold a referendum, always being refused.
“We requested it repeatedly through September, October, November and December 2011 as well as March, April and May, 2012,” Abdel Wahab said, “sorry, we won’t ask another time.”
Al-Musallamani assured Daily News Egypt a new referendum, approved by the administration, shall be held within two weeks.
“We have already sent the administration our draft bylaws to be put to a referendum,” Al-Musallamani said. “It has been tacitly approved by the administration, but it’s currently going through a checking process. We expect the official approval to be out in a couple of days.”
Al-Musallamani said the draft bylaws are similar to those put to a referendum at the weekend, with a few “amendments.” The 2012 student union wants to hold an awareness campaign on their version of the bylaws followed by a second “official” referendum. The organisers of the first referendum are refusing to participate.
“When you say the 2012 student union is holding a referendum, it’s just like saying the administration is holding a referendum,” Abdel Wahab said, adding the organisers of the first referendum had called for amendment proposals over a week ago and included them in their drafts.
The parents of at least eight GUC students received calls from the administration, warning them about their kids’ interaction with “extremists and communists.”
One GUC student, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Daily News Egypt her mother was told her daughter was “hanging out with extremists who are brainwashing her.”
“When my mum denied it, they said they have videos which they have withheld to preserve my reputation as a student,” she said, adding the administration also advised her mother not to send her to university during the referendum. Some students whose parents got phone calls didn’t make it to university during the referendum.
Al-Mussalamani said those supporting the “unauthorised” referendum all belong to the leftist movement, the revolutionary socialists, and the GUC revolutionaries movement.
Abdel Wahab said the referendum was supported by “all political clubs and movements within the university such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Revolutionary Socialists and the leftist students.”