By Shirin Karimi (a reporter for Rooz News Agency)
Bahareh Hedayat, a central committee member of the student group Office for Student Unity [i.e. ISU “Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat”] and former head of the organization’s women’s commission, is a long-time and experienced member of this student group. We spoke with her on the event of Student Day (December 7) about the OSU’s status.
Rooz (R): Ms. Hedayat, how do you evaluate the Office for Student Unity’s performance in the past three and a half years?
Bahareh Hedayat (BH): Following the 2005 presidential election and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s era, in light of conditions that emerged the environment has changed a lot compared to before. As a result, we must have found new mechanisms to activate the new generation that has entered our association, in order to both sustain the strengths of the organization’s political activities and rejuvenate areas of activity that had been neglected in the past. Activities in cultural and social areas were in that category and the association’s performance in these areas has been much more palpable compared to before.
R: Can you provide some examples?
BH: The establishment of the “women’s commission” is one instance of this new approach. The establishment of a student subgroup that focuses on women’s activities and issues related to female students while at the same time being rooted in the student movement, as far as I am aware, is unprecedented. Or, for example, I can not the “consolidation of charity” initiative which began last year and focuses on alleviating social epidemics.
R: Meaning consolidating OSU’s presence in civil society?
BH: Meaning OSU’s consolidation of its fundamental base. We pursue the logical continuation of two strategies of staying away from power and full criticism of power, which were unveiled in 2005, and have emphasized civil society activism as our main slogan.
R: You have attempted to redefine OSU’s mission in a way.
BH: Yes. We have revised the arrangement that planted OSU as an opposition group confined to the political structure as well as its historic dimensions which defined it as a governmental organization inside the university in the past three years. We have decided to distance ourselves from these two definitions and change the public’s view of OSU. We have attempted to improve our performance and I think we have been successful considering the extreme oppression that we have experienced recently which is not comparable to previous eras.
R: The hot topic these days is that of the upcoming election and OSU has issued a statement on this issue. Some interpret this statement as a kind of retreat from OSU’s position four years ago to boycott the election.
BH: It is not at all like that. First of all, the decision to “boycott elections” was ratified by people similar to the ones who currently serve at OSU’s central committee; meaning that we see ourselves as involved and influential in making that decision and continue to defend it. However, the issue involved now is that our decision to boycott was taken 3 years ago and we must not logically analyze the situation again and take a new decision. At the same time, because OSU is a bottom-up organization it must go through the decision-making process anew every time. In this period, we first share our demands with the candidates and make subsequent decisions based on the nature of their response.
[The above interview was published on 7 December 2008 under the title “We Must Give Students a Passing Grade” by Roozonline.com at: http://www.roozonline.com/english/archives/2008/12/we_must_give_students_a_passin.html. For an audio recording click here: http://www.talkr.com/app/text_to_audio.app?action=listen&mp3=http://www.talkr.com/audio/r/o/o/z/888096.mp3.]
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