AWRAD is working to empower Palestinian youth across university campuses. AWRAD’s work has focused on the development of research and planning skills among members of the newly-elected student councils. As such, AWRAD carried out a baseline survey in five universities: Birzeit University, Bethlehem University, Hebron University, Al Quds University, and Palestine Polytechnic University. Throughout April and May 2012, these selected universities conducted elections for their student councils. The elections were highly contested and all relevant political groups including Fatah, Hamas, and other independent and leftist groups participated in the process . The survey questioned students on their needs and priorities, voting patterns, and political views. A representative sample of 1500 students was selected, composed of 300 students from each university campus. The results were later weighted to reflect the size of the student population of each campus. The following is an analysis of the basic data of the survey.
II. Voting Patterns
The survey revealed that the overall voting rate was 78 percent of the eligible students. In contrast, 22 percent of students did not vote. The rate revealed by our survey is consistent with the overall official total rate for all five university campuses. The participation rate was higher among male students (85 percent) than female students (73 percent).
- Reasons for Participating
Students who voted cited the following reasons as (very important):
- Voting is a right and should be exercised (48 percent);
- Student councils are important in defending student rights (33 percent);
- Voting is an expression of political views (10 percent);
- Preventing a list from winning (6 percent);
- The leadership of a party encouraged members to vote (1 percent).
- Reasons for Not Participating
Students who refrained from voting cited the following reasons as (very important):
- Wanted to participate but were busy (25 percent);
- Not convinced by the agenda of any of the available lists (25 percent);
- Student councils are of no real utility to students (21 percent);
- Lists do not place enough emphasis on student issues and needs (13 percent);
- Campaign negativity (5 percent);
- Support for a list that did not run (3 percent).
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