I’ve been told before that everybody knows that journalism, whether campus or mainstream, is a thankless job so no one really needs to write about it, but I will. If as journalists, we got to do what we got to do, we also have to say what we have to say.
Whenever I am asked what The LaSallian is for, it is not difficult for me to answer. “We serve as check and balance of the University administration and the student government. We write about issues that concern the students and we forward the cause of critical thinking,” I say.
We criticize but not for the sake of criticism. We analyze not only for the sake of analysis. Like h*ll we write only for the sake of writing. Truth is we also do what we do for change. We write what we write not only to inform the readers, but also so the people who can and should do something will do something.
When I am asked what The LaSallian is for, I give the right answer because we really do serve as check and balance, and forward critical thinking, but what I fail to say, perhaps because it hurts to admit it, is that we don’t really serve our purpose if no change happens after an article about the administration or the University Student Government (USG) has been submitted, edited, revised and revised, then published.
What frustrates me most times is the futility of the job. If the students (student leaders or not) don’t read us, what difference does an issue of The LaSallian have compared with reading materials the teacher gave and the student kept in his/her portfolio, never to be seen again. If the no one from the administration reads us, we are no different from one of many letters of request given to the secretary, only to be piled underneath the countless memos in need of signature.
However, we fail not just when no one reads us, but also when we are unable to make the readers rethink what they already know and actually do something about it.
For example are political parties Alyansang Tapat sa Lasalista (Tapat) and Iisang Tugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon), who constitute the student government (sans disqualification drama); we have written about them many times over the past few months.
We wrote about how both parties were preparing for last academic year’s General Election (GE). We reported the unusual turn of events when Tapat suddenly retracted their entire slate. We followed around Santugon, whose candidates ran unopposed during the GE, in what they called their “fight against apathy.”
We wrote about the importance of voting, and a part of me hoped that through our General Election special issue, aside from reporting the facts, we would also be encouraging the students to vote.
We were there when Santugon won all seats in the last General Election. That victory meant that the required number of votes was cast, and I’d like to think that perhaps part of that, no matter how little, is the influence of the special issue we released.
As much as Santugon readied for the USG, to be implemented for the first time this year, I anticipated their plans and projects, which I thought I could feature and report. As much as Tapat was preparing for their comeback this year, I was also hopeful that the Freshmen Election (FE) will be two parties against each other, and not a party against abstain.
It is then very disappointing how things worked out, or rather did not work out, in the FE. A lot of pointing fingers have occurred. Many disagreements over technicalities, down to the words used in the actual provisions of the Election Code, have ensued. A party was disqualified.
The results? As of press time, official results of the FE have not been released yet; the political parties only proved how dirty and shallow politics can get in this University; and our Commission on Election (COMELEC) only showed they are incapable of exhibiting the authority expected of a body of their kind.
We reported the disqualification and the whole story behind it last month. We did it to inform the students, but we also did it so that Tapat, Santugon, COMELEC, and everybody else who has been dragged into the whole FE drama will realize that the students have had enough.
Did they listen? No, a month after the FE and after Tapat has been disqualified, there are still no results because Tapat again appealed for reconsideration, won their appeal and then lost it again after COMELEC appealed against them.
Is this how you want the freshmen to remember their first election at DLSU; and you expect them to practice their right to vote the next time there’s an election?
We’ve written countless times that Lasallians deserve leaders, but I will say it again because it looks like our present “student leaders” are not aware of the very distinct line between leadership and politics. We do not need politics in the USG. We did not need it in the Student Council. We do not need it now. There is already too much politics here at DLSU.
At the end of all these, what is really frustrating is no matter how adamant I get about it, it’s still up to Santugon, Tapat, COMELEC and the other student leaders to do away with their slogans, get up and do their jobs, and do them well.
As for the administration, this month’s issue of The LaSallian features a three-part special about establishments near the vicinity of DLSU. The first installment is about establishments, which serve alcoholic beverages, but are within the 50-meter radius of the campus. This should not be the case because of a city ordinance that prohibits establishments, within a 50-meter radius of an academic institution, to serve alcoholic beverages to students.
Again, we cannot do anything about this but only write about it; and we do not want the USG or the Discipline Office or the Security and Safety Office to only read the story we wrote but to do something about it because while we can’t, they can and they should.
In the past, then editors and writers wrote about many other issues concerning the administration: the standardized class hours, student activities’ approval, curriculum review, revisions on the handbook and the grievance process, among other things.
I bet they did not only want the readers to read. They wanted the concerned to act. I’m sure they wanted the standardized class hours reviewed, the student activities’ approval made less scrutinizing, the curriculum improved, the revisions considered and the grievance process made more successful.
I want action too. I want our student leaders to own up to their mistakes and take responsibility. I want the administration and the USG to look into establishments, which are only a few meters away from the University but serve pitchers of gin and cans of beer.
It may get tiring too to criticize and to argue, especially if nothing comes of it, but that I get tired does not mean I give up. Yes, it hurts to admit that more times than we like, The LaSallian fails either because students don’t always read us or we don’t always affect change.
Thing is, we don’t let failure keep us from doing our jobs. We just do it. So should our student leaders and the administration.