by Judielyn Agua and Jeuel Barroso
Candidates for the College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMC SC) elections grilled each party’s stance on student welfare and right to organize in light of recent issues involving groups’ application practices.
The issue was brought up on Friday in Liyab, a debate organized by the UP Mass Communicators Organization (UP MCO), after some organizations have recently been called out since a student posted on Facebook her “traumatic” application experience in one organization.
Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP)’s Broadcast Communication (BC) Representative Dave Guino defended organizations, tracing the role and history of student movements back in the 1970s.
“Hindi natin masisisi ang mga organisasyon.. Nagmula ang ganitong kultura nung Martial Law kung saan kelangang paigtingin ang app process dahil may mga nanghihimasok na miyembro ng militar at pulisya,” he said.
One of Ferdinand Marcos’s orders during Martial Law, General Order No. 5, banned group assemblies, strikes and pickets. Most UP organizations were forced into retirement, as any gathering of five persons was declared illegal.
Only fraternities and sororities, along with regional organizations, were then allowed to continue operation.
Meanwhile, UP CMC Interdependent Student Activism (ISA)’s Communication Research Representative Arjay Torno said while it is reasonable to value culture and tradition of organizations, no student must be hurt in any of the practices.
“Nirerecognize natin kung gaano kahalaga ang kultura ng orgs, pero hindi dapat hinahayaan na may mga estudyanteng nasasaktan. Against tayo sa lahat ng forms ng hazing –psychological, physical, and emotional,” he said.
He echoed, however, that the administration must never impede on the students’ right to organize.
Incumbent Journalism Representative Hazel Lobres, who is currently running as STAND UP’s college representative to the University Student Council (USC), stressed organizations’ right to autonomy and capacity to decide and act as a collective.
She said the “feudalistic” culture of organization mirrors what only prevails in the larger society and that addressing it must also be systemic.
“May power struggle na nagmamanifest sa app process na ito.. kaya dapat systemic din ang pakikibaka natin,” Lobres said.
UP CMC ISA’s BC Representative Ben Baquilod, on the other hand, offered consistent consultation with the Faculty and Student Relations Committee (FSRC) and Council of Representatives (CoR) as a concrete step to prevent abuse of students’ rights.
“May FSRC kung saan represented tayo ng ating Chairperson at sa CoR na kinoconvene naman ng Vice-Chair ay laging may rep sa lahat ng orgs,” Baquilod said.
He was rebutted by STAND UP-CMC Journalism Representative Mikko Ringia who said students must not rely on the administration in addressing organization issues.
“‘Wag po tayo sanang nakasalalay sa admin mismo upang tugunan ang problema ng ating frat, soro at orgs,” he said.
Ringia reiterated the importance of holding political and educational discussions with student groups, stressing organizations capacity to self-regulate and power as a collective to effect change in the society.
UP CMC ISA’s Treasurer Queencee Quitalig, meanwhile, clarified they are not suggesting dependence on the administration for regulation, and stressed that before the college issues any directive, each student organization is properly represented.
“Hindi po namin sinasabi na nakadepende tayo sa admin para iregulate ang ating orgs…Bago magbigay ng direktiba ang admin nakakapagbigay naman ng opinyon ang orgs sa pamamagitan nga ng FSRC at CoR,” she said.
The annual Liyab is the first of two debates organized by the UP MCO.
The CMCSC candidates, along with USC hopefuls, will meet again in Hot Off the Grill on April 13.