AUA Student Council’s Triumphs and Challenges

Illustration by Jenny Belle Toromanian

Every year, the elected members of the Student Council (SC) leave a distinctive impact on student life at AUA as they aim to amplify the voices of students, address their concerns, and bring the community closer. Looking back at the past year, two members of SC 2023, Erik Mnatsakanyan, the external communications representative, and Meghedi Baghoomian, the internal communications specialist, share their insights on their performance.

Erik, a BAB junior, always had a passion for governance. For him, joining the SC meant making a positive impact on student life. “It is an excellent opportunity to contribute to improving students’ lives, creating memories, and developing skills,” he shares.

Erik highlights that beyond upholding cherished traditions like the Spring and Winter Balls, new initiatives such as organizing Bloggers Day and trips to Aghveran and Tavush were organized. Moreover, he emphasizes the SC’s role in the community: “We contributed to university governance by successfully representing the student body in a number of committees and task forces.”

No journey is without its challenges, and Erik openly acknowledges the difficulties the SC faces. A good example is the transition period when new members join the team and have to learn everything from scratch. “Nothing is easy, but due to our teamwork and collaborative efforts, we overcome them,” he says.

The surge in student participation is one of the most remarkable aspects of the 2023 SC’s tenure. “I am really proud that the number of active students has multiplied since the start of the year,” Erik shares as he recounts the challenges posed by the overwhelming demand for specific events.

Events like Winter and Spring Balls faced such high demand that tickets sold out in a matter of days. Erik reflects on the balancing act required to accommodate diverse student interests, saying, “We tried our best to organize multiple activities for people with different backgrounds to have opportunities to participate, have fun, and be active.”

However, according to Erik, others do not participate due to significant commitments such as work. Drawing from his experience as a full-time worker, he encourages others to be actively involved and not miss out on the fun.

Meghedi, a BAB senior, was motivated to be the voice of her peers within the university community. Recalling the past terms of the AUA SC, she noticed a lack of student representation and decided to take action.

Meghedi’s proudest moment is the network of friendships she has built within the SC. She cherishes her friendship with her peers, emphasizing that this connection has been the “definition of a successful accomplishment.” She expresses gratitude for the other five members; Maneh Petrosian (EC junior), Erik Mnatsakanyan (BAB junior), Gregory Akopyan (PG junior), Elen Khosteghyan (PG junior), Monika Ghavalyan (DS junior), and three advisors, Dr. Paturyan, Ms. Mikhaylova and Ms. Marukyan, and acknowledges their indispensable role in the SC’s achievements.

For Meghedi and her peers, the challenge lay in the intricate process of integrating individual strengths to form a unified team. “The real challenge was integrating our skills and going forward as a team. There were many ups and downs until we got the hang of it,” she explains. The warm and supportive atmosphere, initiated mainly by the advisors, ensured that SC members were mutually respected and looked after each other every step of the way.

Based on collected data, Meghedi noted a particular pattern for student participation: first-year students are typically enthusiastic about various events, especially trips, balls, and volunteering, whereas upper-year students show more interest in annual traditions like Valentine’s Day or Flower Day. She also observed a disparity in participation between STEM and non-STEM majors, indicating that students from STEM fields, although quite responsive to surveys, are less involved in SC activities.

A survey conducted in the 2023 Spring semester revealed that most students cited busyness and inconvenient event timings as the main reasons for low participation. Learning from the survey, the SC adjusted event timings based on student availability. Additionally, Meghedi mentions that some students may not be aware of ongoing activities, prompting the SC to intensify efforts in spreading the word through various communication channels.

As the curtain falls on the year 2023, the AUA SC reflects on a journey marked by triumphs and challenges. Erik and Meghedi offer a firsthand account of the dedication, passion, and adaptability that define the team’s endeavors. Their accounts underline the importance of student engagement, teamwork, and flexibility in creating a university community that thrives academically and through the lasting bonds forged in the collaborative efforts of the SC.

As the 2024 SC steps forward to continue the incredible work of its colleagues, it draws the attentive eye of the students, staff, and faculty. The SC of 2023 has set the bar high and brought new student expectations and demands.

Thank you, SC of 2023, and best of luck, SC of 2024!

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