There’s no question that being a university student is hard. However, being the face of over 800 university students is much harder.
No one knows this more than former student council members Lindsay Salvati and Christopher James Downs.
Lindsay, a second-year business administration student and Christopher, a third-year international relations student were both crucial members of the student council, at one point holding positions of Vice President and President.
Sitting in the Café de Taxis, the pair are happy to speak about their time on the student council.
“I was involved for 2 semesters,” says Lindsay. “I was the club coordinator, then I was promoted to the vice president, and then actually during the second semester is when he and I both fell out.”
“I really enjoyed it,” she adds. “I really enjoyed getting to know the people there. It was kind of my first time being able to be a leader and help the student body coordinate events, solve issues, so I really enjoyed that.”
Christopher, former student council president and member of three consecutive years, agrees with Lindsay’s assessment.
“It was great. I loved it. I definitely learned a lot.”
Although the pair ensure that their time on the student council was pleasant, the organization has had its fair share of controversy within the last semester. Most recently, the Anglo American University’s (AAU) logo change.
It all started with a Facebook post.
On March 8th, AAU students were shocked to open up their Facebook browsers and find that the profile picture for the official university page had been changed. What was once the clean, black, red and white logo consisting of the three letters A-A-U, was now to include a much brighter color palate containing blue, yellow and red.
The backlash was instantaneous.
By the end of the day, the post had garnered 148 reactions and over 45 comments from various users.
“I do not want this on a diploma. I did not sign up for Crayon University. The yellow is urine colored and the whole logo looks cheap and childish. Hire an actual professional to design a logo,” wrote one user.
“I hope no one paid for this joke of a logo. And it’s just some assistants joke,” another commented.
Other users compared the new logo to the Romanian national flag, the logo of the digital travel agency Trivago and even the local Czech soccer team AC Sparta Praha.
Based on the Facebook post alone, the overall consensus was clear. The majority of individuals did not approve of the change.
With such an outcry from the student body, the members of Student Council felt they needed to take a stand. That stand was in the form of a petition.
“There was one comment on the social media backlash, on the photo, and one girl said, ‘If there was a petition, I’d sign it.’ Just one comment, and then it just continued,” said Lindsay. “The next morning, I got a message from my current boss and she said, ‘Lindsey, I hear you know something about a petition.’”
At that point, Lindsay says she had no knowledge of any petition, but felt the need to do her job in representing the wants and needs of the students.
“I texted Chris and was like there’s no petition, but we need to make one. So that morning I ran over to my job at the reception and I printed out all the papers. I had the help of my colleagues and also my current boss and we just put everything up in the café and yeah.”
The petition gained around 200 signatures, which is a lot for AAU according to Christopher. Individuals spanning across all majors, ranks and ages had signed.
Christopher admits he’s never seen the AAU community come together like that.
The marketing director of the communications department, Zita Lara, released an official letter regarding the logo change to Facebook on March 9th. The letter explained the reasoning behind the change and stated that the department “organized various workshops and discussion groups, along with undertaking research among students and prospective students” before making the official decision.
However, Christopher and Lindsay tell a different story.
“Let me first say, we’re very happy with the direction of Zita. She’s doing a very good job. She’s trying very, very hard,” says Christopher. “However, she just bet on the wrong horse.”
He explains how the situation unfolded from his point of view.
“The previous vice president and I were advised upon it and we didn’t like it. Then, we had a meeting with the student council about 12 hours prior before they made the official switch. We said we didn’t like it and it was a bad idea. They went with it anyway. Of course, there was a huge student backlash. Our job is not to create parties, but to represent the students wants and their interests, so this is exactly what we did.”
Faculty member Christopher Shallow has come to a similar consensus as Christopher. As a representative on the faculty senate and a faculty member representative on the board of trustees, Shallow has seen the situation from all sides. However, he too agreed that they majority of both committees did not like the change.
“The problem was that the board of trustees realized, like the faculty did, that we’re not the target market, so it doesn’t matter really whether we like the logo,” Shallow explains. “What matters is if the students and prospective students like the logo. Because you’re the target market.”
However, it was abundantly apparent that students didn’t in fact like the logo.
“Nobody was advised on it,” states Christopher. “We told Zita that all you had to do was to send out an email to the students saying do you like it or do you not like it. Now, generally it is known that emails to work around this school, but at least they would’ve had an excuse. Like we tried to contact you, we tried to do this and this, not just slap it on and say deal with it.”
When the communications department brought their case to both the faculty senate and the board of trustees, Shallow had presumed that research had been conducted.
“I was told the logo had been researched and that the students asked, had liked it. I was too busy to check if a representative sample had been asked. If I had had the chance, I would’ve discovered that a representative sample hadn’t been asked, and I would’ve warned her not to implement it so quickly.”
But there’s no lingering hard feelings from Shallow, Christopher or Lindsay towards the communications department.
“We all make mistakes and we all learn from them,” says Shallow.
After much deliberation, it was decided that the old logo would be reinstated until further research was conducted and discussions were had regarding a future rebranding. This appeared to be a decision that all parties agreed on.
Shortly after the resolution of the great logo debate, there was a mass exodus from the student council in which four out of the five active members resigned from their positions.
Despite what some might infer, both Lindsay and Christopher assure that the timing of their departures was purely coincidental to the logo fiasco.
The true motive for the partings?
“Time constraints,” Christopher explains. “I was back on my studies, especially with my thesis proposal. That is why I left.”
“The main reason I left was because I just started working full time. After Chris decided to leave, I was promoted to the presidency which was something I could not hold up.”
As for the reasoning behind the two other members’ departure?
The pair pause and make eye contact before Christopher responds.
“For the same reasons we did.”
No matter what the reasoning was, looking at their time as members of the student council, it’s clear to see that both Lindsay and Christopher truly care for the well-being of the student body.
Christopher summed it up best.
“Being in the student council is a lot of work and you don’t just do it to put it on your CV. You really need to care about the students, about their lives, about the events. You really need to treat this as almost a full-time job.”
“There is almost little to no praise for it, but you’re not doing it for that either. You really need to care.”
“I second that,” laughs Lindsay.