It’s election season again, and just as candidates and their political parties have started to mark their territories with tarpaulins, standees, and other campaign materials, so has the student body been able to witness various efforts at mudslinging, in hopes of tainting the other party’s name and reputation, as well as stories from students (and even faculty members) that detail their less-than-pleasant experiences with the campaigners. Among allegations of stolen plans of action, calls to vote abstain, and everything else that comes with the inane drama that is the University Student Government (USG)’s General Elections campaign season, there was one story that struck me the most.
Members of a political party allegedly disparaged a student who had graduated from a medicine summer program in Stanford University, calling the student a braggart. The original poster of what is now one of the most prominent stories amid the ongoing campaign season said she was aboard one of the elevators on campus with some members of a political party when the said members called the Stanford graduate full of pride and arrogance. The poster pointed out that it’s questionable how members of the political party in question acted in the situation, as the poster called out, among other things, the unsolicited side remark of calling the Stanford graduate “mayabang”. Instead of dragging another student down—someone who had rightfully earned the recognition—the poster said that these students running for positions in the USG should instead be uplifting other students.
I understand where she’s coming from, as I remember a couple of years back when a similar situation happened to me—interestingly, also in the Andrew elevators. As a DLSU student, one knows how stressful it can be to wait in line to board the elevators in Andrew, especially when running late for a class. On one particular day, also during campaign season back then, I was waiting in line, already growing antsy because I was minutes away from being late to one of my subjects.
When the elevators finally opened on the ground floor, several members from a certain political party (they were very identifiable because all of them had been wearing the same colored shirt and lanyard to match) rushed to enter, even though they had not been waiting in line. They were nowhere near the line, even. It was an experience that I remember to this day, largely in part because people who cut lines are the absolute bane of my existence, and also due to the fact that it seemed counterintuitive to me to talk about a just and free society when they could not even abide by simple queues and elevator etiquette.
There’s something to be said about the way these campaigners behave inside and outside the classroom. Inside, they’re prim, proper, and poised, mouthing off their platforms in a way that showcases memorization (not necessarily mastery, however). Outside, they’ve received complaints of being too loud or too boisterous, as they occupy territories they’ve established in corridors, along walkways, and in other public spaces. And now, there are reports of them going against the very things they say they stand for.
We’ve heard the saying “practice what you preach” perhaps one time too many. Whether calling for a just and free society, or clamoring for a genuine student leadership, students running for office should remember that these aren’t mere words written on paper, nor mere platforms that should stay in writing. These must translate to actions, whether big or small, that reflect these ideals.
The results of this year’s election remains to be seen. There are so many factors at play—among them, three students gunning for the top position, corruption allegations that have resurfaced, and, yes, even electoral issues that have been reduced to memes circulating online. With some calling for voting abstain, and considering the recent voter turnout of the past two elections, the threat of a failure of elections becomes imminent and not at all impossible. There is only so much we can do to prevent such, and it certain doesn’t help anyone’s case if these campaigners don’t practice what they continuously preach.