OpinionLetter to the Editor by Bianca Soriano
Letter to the Editor by Bianca Soriano
March 15, 2015
March 15, 2015

Letters to the Editor is a section where The LaSallian publishes sentiments and opinions by members of the community on matters concerning life in De La Salle University in any of its aspects. Should you wish to send a letter to the editor, kindly email your letter to [email protected], or send a message to our Facebook page.

ADO_11104

To the Editorial Board of The LaSallian,

Why an Anarchic Student Body is NOT the Answer

There is no doubt that this year’s University Student Government (USG) General Elections (GE) was marred by several issues – violations of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); political parties’ petitions to nullify the MOA; Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) declaration of lull period at the middle of campaigning; and the ineligibility to run of MORE THAN 100 candidates. With these distressing issues (all happening in one week), the rise of student’s political apathy became ever more apparent. Others even clamored for the abolishment of the USG; an act of demand for anarchy.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anarchy as the “absence of government”. As a Political Science Major, there are thousands of arguments on why anarchy is the worst solution, even if we humans originated in a state of anarchy. Critics would say, “Anarchy has failed before. In fact it has failed everywhere, all across the world, because there are no lasting anarchist societies today. So why would we expect anarchy to work now?” From reading several books and articles on this, I would like to shed some light on why an anarchic student body is not the answer.

From Facebook posts, tweets, and comments on articles publicized by student media publications, students have expressed their disgust with the “dirt” of politics that seem to exist in the student body. They seem to parallel the USG with the Philippine government, wherein fact, in its defense, the only (arguably) similarity is that the USG mirrors the STRUCTURE of the Philippine government; it has the three branches – executive, legislative, and judiciary. However, social media was bombarded by negative comments about the USG such as “let DLSU have a year without the USG. Then everyone will finally realize how we can still LIVE without them, and how irrelevant they our to our lives”, “this whole USG thing is just for social standing and resume purposes”, “I have not felt USG presence at all”, etc.

As an active member of the USG (2 years appointed and 1 year elected), I am dismayed with how students from the University have not appreciated, or at least recognize the efforts done by the student government. I do not blame how some students feel apathetic, for they have the right to do so, I would only like the students to at least recognize the work done by the USG from the simple publicity of announcements coming from the admin to organized conferences with notable speakers. Also, I would like others to recognize the USG as an avenue to train their leadership skills in the pursuit of providing genuine service for their constituents. Having this will be beneficial for the country, for we are the nation’s future leaders.

I speak on behalf of those who valued their time to give quality service instead of utilizing that time to study, to bond with friends, or spend time with family, especially those who go home every weekend to their provinces. To process Project Proposals (PPR) (for the executive branch) and to author and lobby for resolutions (for the legislative branch) are no jokes; both require persistence and patience. Therefore, with all the time and effort exerted by officers from the USG, to witness student apathy is something that is truly disappointing.

I can safely assume that one of the reasons why there is student apathy is because of the non-recognition of students that the simple service they experience, such as adjustment, EAF claiming and announcement of suspensions are works done by the USG. This is coupled with tireless battles in the Tuition Fee Increase Board, Handbook Revisions Committee, and other representative bodies. We are not asking for others to give gratitude to the USG, because service requires no reward, we are only asking to value the importance of having a student government inside the university. The USG does not only exist to provide quality services needed by the students, it also stands for student representation.

As part of the National Affairs Committee in the Legislative Assembly, I, together with two other Legislative Assembly Representatives, have written a manifesto on the passage of the Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Bill. The bill advocates for students’ rights, as there have been a number of violations towards it since the Martial Law Era. Among the violations are the prohibition to form organizations, prohibition to elect student representatives, and the exclusion from tuition-free consultations or meeting.

Authoring the manifesto made me realize how privileged DLSU is for having a USG. For decades, other universities across the country have been fighting for student representation but their respective administrations in their universities prohibit them from doing so. Other universities can easily decide tuition-fee increases without proper consultation with the students. Other students do not even have the right to consult their grades; they do not even know what “filing for grievance” is. Reading these issues that continues to exist in universities across the country moved me to be one with these universities in advocating this Bill.

Among the things the Bill guarantees Filipino students are the following:

1.    Right to admission, non-discrimination and quality education;
2.    Right to organize and establish their own student councils and/or organizations;
3.    Right to participate in policy-making processes
4.    Right to due process in disciplinary proceedings
5.    Right to be secured within school premises

For decades, DLSU has been able to exercise these rights that other universities did not have, and one of which is the USG. According to the USG constitution, “the USG shall have the power of which emanates from the student body. It shall be the sole, unified, autonomous and democratic representative body of the students”. With this being said, the USG does not revolve around the elected leaders or even the appointed ones, it revolves around the students from the university. I hope the students know that we take accountability in representing the student body, for we follow very high standards of professionalism and conduct with respect to our strict policies moderated by our internal accountability processes.

As I end this, I would like to emphasize once again for students to take advantage of this privilege of having student representatives and to have faith with the USG by exercising their right to vote. It would also be a bonus for the USG if students would be active by not just participating in its activities, but also giving feedback on their needs as students. Trust me when I say that in my 3 years of being active in the USG, I have witnessed so many officers, Santugon or Tapat, appointed or elected, who shout no politics; a true embodiment of zeal for service – one of the Lasallian core values.

Amidst everything, let us be Lasallian Achievers for God and Country.

 

Yours in St. La Salle,

Bianca Soriano