BEIRUT: University is not just a place of education, it’s also a social circle of people from different backgrounds and experiences, and where education and a diverse society meet, activism often rises.
University clubs in Lebanon make sure to keep raising awareness whenever there’s a need for it, and contribute largely to the character development of students, preparing them for the larger post-graduation world outside.
The overall vibe in the Lebanese University before 2014 was filled with political and religious tensions, according to Mohamad Ghazal, Vice President of Sama Club.
“You would clearly see students divided based on their backgrounds, and the need for a platform to snap out of this environment grew, and that’s why Sama was created,” Ghazal told Annahar.
Sama hosts social and educational events that raise awareness against intolerance and hatred. Some of the themes discussed are civil marriage and gender discrimination.
Having these events at the university “creates a sense of belonging for all students, it helps them make friends, become educated on neglected topics, and realize their potential” he added.
He further noted that most students who sign up to become a member are initially unaware that they have the power to make a difference, but once they realize their potential, they start to believe in themselves, which then prepares them for life after university.
The Human Rights Club at The Lebanese American University was created four years ago to “defend dignities,” said the president of the club, Abdullah Malaaeb.
This year, the Human Rights Club took part in an event that discussed women’s participation in politics, and in another event that focused on road safety.
“Having active clubs in a university is important for linking students with the social context that they come from … It allows them to improve their personal skills and encourages them to become active socially and politically,” Malaaeb said.
University clubs are not limited to human rights, as the Animal Rescue Club in the Lebanese International University shows us by defending animal rights.
President of the club Stephanie Jabbour said that the initiative began with a few animal-loving students who got together and decided to put their love for animals to use.
The club caters for homeless animals and ones whose conditions are dire.
“We either help by covering medical expenses or through shares until a home or an adoptee is found,” says Jabbour, adding: “Recently, we were able to raise funds to cover the medical treatment for Cheddar, a cat who had lost his eye.”
As for the home of humans and animals, the Recycling Club at The University of Balamand makes sure to protect that as well.
“Students took it upon themselves to take the initiative and help people become conscious and better activists in the modern world,” says Bechara Yazigi, current president of the club.
The club organizes many environment-friendly events like cleaning up and visiting waste management centers, and they even hosted a workshop once on “how to make use of unwanted paper by creating artistic origami.”
Not just that, but the club also managed to implement recycling bins around campus to make it easier for students to take part in the eco-friendly movement.
“As university students we are impressionable. If we see our community members being active regarding a certain issue, we are inspired to do the same, that’s why it's important to have active students,” Yazigi told Annahar.
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