I was wandering around the internet a few days ago. Then I came across the website of Sharif University of Technology, a University where many of the authors of this weblog have got their undergraduate degree from. In the right corner of this website, there are a few links to some of the university student groups. I started to check their websites. The website of the Islamic Association of Students, the main pro-democracy student association in the university, hasn't been updated since the year 2000. However, the website of the Political Studies Office, a pro-conservative student group updates on a daily basis. Looking at other student groups, I observed that those groups that advocate conservative and religious values seem to be more active than others whose activities are actully closer to what the majority of students would want to see.
There are two main reasons for why students should try to be involved in the student groups. In the first place, they participate in the running of their own university. Those student groups that organize social events as well as others that solve student problems by discussing them with the university officials simply improve the student life in the university. On the other hand, it is a great opportunity for the members of these groups to learn how to work in a group. Even on the low level of a small group, students can practice democracy among themselves. When they graduate from the university, they can use these experiences in their new career. We could hope that those who may decide to become politicians one day have already learned some of the necessary expertise and will not start from scratch. The student groups could also be a very good initiative for the NGOs, which currently our country desparately needs. Having said that, it was quite dissapointing for me to see that my favourite student groups are no longer very active as they used to be.
Quite often, when we, as Iranians, get into a discussion about the current situation of our country, we talk about what the reformists (in particular, Khatami) should or should not do. We usually forget what we ourselves ought to do as if our duty is only casting a ballot every one or two years. At the same time as the reformists are trying to move the reform ahead on the government level, people should leave their houses and actively participate in running the society. On the university level, this responsibility is over the shoulder of students.
In future, whatever happens in Iran to break the current political deadlock, in its best possible scenario would be only a temporary solution and cannot bring a long-standing democracy. Democracy has to take root in Iran and this will not happen unless all the people participate in it.