Challenging their politics of change
As a student institution, the University Student Council serves as venue in which our voices could be heard. We elect student leaders with the belief that they will uphold and defend our rights, and fight alongside us to achieve our demands. Our choice of leaders will play a crucial role in achieving the change we so aspire for in UP.
For two years, we have been denied such leadership, with ALYANSA and KAISA having taken the helm of the USC. The past two years have been marked by newly-imposed laboratory and other exorbitant fees, coupled with heightened commercialization schemes of the administration. Alongside this are renewed attempts to railroad repressive policies, including the draft 2009 Code of Student Conduct.
The USC has been divided on many of these issues, primarily because of political partisanship within its ranks. Indeed, while ALYANSA and KAISA both call for unity, collective action, and “unifying leadership” in the USC, they sought to divide the council in the face of crucial issues concerning us iskolars ng bayan.
They claim to be pro-student, yet the only agenda they forward is their own. Both have even used the present crisis of student representation in the Board of Regents to push outdated calls to amend the rules for student regent selection.
Moreover, they have betrayed their constituents by siding with the administration on several points, such as on the utilization of idle assets for income-generation. Instead of pushing for greater subsidy, they sought to compromise our welfare, however detrimental to student rights.
Such stances reflect the defeatist nature of ALYANSA and KAISA. They claim to present “better alternatives,” and yet they bow down to the skewed logic brandished by the administration for anti-student policies.
Now, they resort to empty rhetoric to once more deceive us iskolars ng bayan — rhetoric which sounds good to the ears, but without practice are essentially hollow, empty words, reflecting these parties’ tolerance of the status quo.
“Kasama ka,” claims ALYANSA. Yet they never were with us in struggle, and have in fact supported the 300 percent tuition increase policy in 2006 which continues to burden us presently, instead calling for the reformation of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program as a solution. Recent figures, however, have proven the ineffectiveness of the STFAP re-bracketing they have advocated, as few benefit from the flawed program.
Meanwhile, KAISA calls on us to “rise to the challenge,” and “move forward.” But how could we do so without first setting our sights on changing the problems of the present? Contrary to claims of having “began a journey of change” by clinching last year’s USC leadership, they have failed to initiate the slightest changes within the university, and have instead neglected their duties as duly-elected student leaders.
Two years of experience taught us that we cannot “move forward” through compromise. Pluralism, the essence of “inclusive” and “multiperspective” activism so revered by KAISA and ALYANSA, implies tolerance and self-defeatism, as it renders them incapable of defending their stands, or indeed, even of making a solid stance on the most basic issue of student rights.
Genuine advocates of change do not resort to failed compromises. History proves how resistance and collective action succeed where the politics of compromise cannot. Throughout its 13 years of existence, STAND-UP remains the staunchest defender of student rights, unwavering in its stance and demand for genuine change, even beyond the confines of school.
STAND-UP dares to resist where others have retreated, and have in fact won victories alongside us iskolars ng bayan, such as the struggle for student representation and student demands. Student welfare is the primary concern it forwards.
This election, a challenge is upon us. For two years, we have been shortchanged. Let us assert our right to truly be heard and represented in the USC, with the brand of leadership which has molded STAND-UP through the years. Through our unity and collective action, genuine change could be achieved.
ANAKBAYAN – UP DILIMAN