Last Friday's Miting de Avance for the Central Student Council
Elections had been a regular fanfare for PUPians. There were two colors-- the
Reds and the Yellows, both elbowing their ways to the heart of the well,
"voters" or their constituents.
There were 20 something candidates for the SC positions, i.e.
councilorship, vice presidency and presidency. Both parties were introduced by
their feisty campaign managers, each statement loaded with puns and
"patama". And then there were the "groupies" or yeah right,
their "supporters". To add some spice for the event, there were
chants and yells shouted at the top of their lungs; there were the usual
catcalls, and then there were also the not-so-usual, yun na nga yung mga pasaring at patama.
After the "show", the candidates proceeded to their
speaking opportunities. They were allowed to speak for a few minutes, around
3-5, just to lay out their platforms for governance. And well, their platforms
all had recurring and obvious themes: student empowerment through involvement
and interaction, a push for a better quality of education through academic
excellence, social awareness and a call for a higher budget and advancement of
the interests of all sectors involved inside the campus most especially the
I strained myself to listen to what both sides would have to
say. After all, it is my duty to do so as a student; but more than that, it is
what is expected of a Political Science student. I have to understand what they
want to say and from that look at which perspective they are coming from. It is
also expected of me to discern what they are saying and examine if they are
really telling me the truth or they're just feeding me lies and empty promises.
Let us take a look at their supposedly "platforms for
The Yellows' banner statement is Academic Excellence. They are
premised on the idea that students should be students, they have to study,
participate on a few extra-curricular activities and take part on issues
concerning students primarily. Issues like tuition increase, budget cuts, added
facilities and improved quality in education, according to them, could be
solved through more "rational" means. They tell us that if we choose
to study and excel in our classes, we'll be able to graduate in time, find the
right job-- with good pay and fat benefits-- and pay our taxes regularly and
correctly. These taxes are government revenues used to fund the education of
our fellow Iskos and Iskas that could help them get more facilities and in
effect achieve a better education. That's simple logic. :) On things like
budget cuts and tuition increases, they argue that issues could be settled on
by sitting on the table, talking and eventually smoothing out the differences
the affected parties has. That could be
a good point.
Now the Reds tell us that they too would want to empower
students but on a different approach. They go for "militancy" (that's how I perceive it's called).
They see that students go to school because they have to study not just their
basic subjects and chosen courses but also on how the society works. They view
academic excellence as a balance between studying within the four walls of the
classroom and going outside our zones to understand the plight of the people
who make our studying possible-- the "small and landless farmers, farm
workers, fisherfolk" (TY
MDG handout. hehe) and the members of the working class i.e.
migrant workers, factory workers, our parents really. We're going to be like
them someday, working our asses off to put food on our tables, so we have to
help them fight for their rights, in that way we lend a hand in shaping a
better future for every one. Hence, the rallies and protests and the
alternative classes. This could be
But wait there's more. From the point of view of an average
reasonable person, I see the flaws on plan.
First off, you tell us of academic excellence and all-- passed
exams, no flunked classes and a healthy class record. There may be professors
with problems on work ethics like those who frequently absent, those who just
guess the student's grades and those whose agenda in life is to powertrip.
There really are plain bad professors and instructors. But there are also the
better professors, those who really prepare reading materials, those who teach
students what they should know and those who do not copy exam questions from
the internet (as if we
don't discover what you are doing. hahaha).
And yes, we have to deal with them no matter how difficult it
could be. From them, we are able to understand the real value of learning-- we
are pushed to do our best even if they don't come to class and even if they
don't teach. We won't be absent in class just because we see our prof's
ineffective or because we got drunk last night. We would choose to take the
quiz even if we're not prepared and we expect to fail because we know that it
is our primary responsibility to study. So don't go telling us you are the
better bunch because you go for academic excellence when you choose to do the non-important
stuff. I'd rather be seen on the streets fighting for a cause than be sleeping
on the couch because I got tired from the "inuman" sessions last
night. Walk the
But second, explain to us what have you done to empower the
students. Tell us, in
rich detail, how you are able to flesh out participation
from the students "when you cannot even empower them enough (Wong,
2011)" to stay and listen to what you have to say that night. You
brand yourselves as leaders when you cannot even command them to listen to what
good things you have stored for us,
that is, if you really have
something good in store for us. hahaha. It is called a platform for
governance not a platform to mudsling your opponent or a platform to show off
your achievements because to tell you weren't an inch to what you
should achieve as a student leader. You have to encourage us to take part in
student activities, you do not expect us to look for you and ask for
activities. You, as student leaders, would have to seek us out and make us feel
involved. When you are able to do succeed in doing that, that is where
interaction begins. Hence the term, participative
democracy. This goes for both sides, just so you know.
Our "student leaders" do not seem to identify the
value of representation. During the event, the only people who listened to you
were your fanbases-- the people who belong to your own org. How about those who
are not members, those who are plain students? There were candidates that
night, around 20 I think, people are thick on the grounds but when you look up,
you are talking to either empty railings or your classmates who throw confetti
on you (like duh.
Those present weren't even the majority of the PUP student
population, heck, they're just ten per cent from my estimate. And you dare
call them the represented lot? No. Not even that close.
You intend to be our leaders but you cannot even stand on your
own and find a support base that is really coming from the mass constituency.
If you only rely on your fellows and not on us, the greater lot, then you are
just THEIR leader,
not ours. The simple activity called Miting de Avance is a litmus paper to
test your rapport to the students-- how you will be able to connect to them and
make them listen to what you have to say because just like King George VI in
the King's Speech, you too have a "voice". So we should not be
wasting our time listening to gibberish and plain nonsense when you can tell us
more. And yes, we
expect more even if you are not able to win the elections. Public service is
not exclusive to position or the SC Elections, it goes beyond that.
**To those who will be "anointed" by the mandate of
the studentry, we expect that you employ public service and student service at
its finest. I believe that this criticism is constructive enough to help
improve the level and quality of service you provide to your constituency. To
the not-so-fortunate candidates, may you be humble to accept defeat. Take it as
a realization that you have to do better than the effort you gave. You may be
too airy to see that you are not being true to what you are trying to fight
for. Debate taught me to share my thoughts and be vigilant on what is happening
around me. But more than that, it also taught me to look at things on a broader
perspective, to listen to the other side because like me they also have
something "good" to say and to speak with courage even if opposing
people won't approve of it.
***The article was first posted as a note in FaceBook
on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 9:34pm
Labels: pup, school politics, student government elections