By Jhesset Enano
Sparks flew Friday during “Hot Off the Grill,” the College of Mass Communication’s official miting de avance, when the Interdependent Student-Centered Activism (ISA) candidate for chairperson accused the rival party’s vice-chairperson candidate of falsifying class attendance.
In the middle of an already tense debate between CMC’s two political parties, ISA’s Farahnaz Ghodsinia asked Charlotte France, candidate for vice-chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP CMC (STAND UP-CMC) how she would define academic integrity and honesty.
France replied that she valued integrity, but not just in academics. “What is our definition of integrity? Kung paano natin tinatangan ang ating responsibilidad bilang isang lider-estudyante, kung paano natin tinatangan ang responsibilidad sa pagsusulong ng mga interes ng ating mamamayan (It’s how we carry out our responsibilities as student leaders, how we carry out our responsibility to forward the interest of the people),” she said.
However, Ghodsinia surprised the crowd when she revealed that France and two other Broadcast Communication students allegedly arranged for another classmate to sign the attendance sheet for them during a class where the three were all absent.
“Is that what you call academic integrity?” Ghodsinia asked, eliciting a rowdy response from the audience. “You call yourself a role model, a leader [when] you don’t even stand up to that integrity and honesty that we have as students.”
France, however, shot back at Ghodsinia and said she was insulted by the latter’s decision to bring up such a “sensitive discussion” in a public setting.
“Naninindigan po tayo na nakakainsulto ang mga ganitong usapin… Ito ay maselang usapin na di natin dapat inilalabas sa konteksto nito (We believe that this kind of discussion is insulting. It is a sensitive discussion that we should not take out of context),” she said.
The miting de avance, organized by the UP Mass Communicators Organization, saw the candidates of the two political parties—from chairperson to course representatives—debate on issues such as activism and their proposed projects for the college.
The slates of ISA and STAND-UP CMC were complete during the event. Independent candidates Angelo Lagman and Joaquin Torres, who are running for Communication Research representative and chairperson respectively, were also present.
In an ambush interview with Tinig ng Plaridel, Ghodsinia maintained that she did not have any malicious intent in revealing France’s alleged wrongdoing.
“Wala naman po akong sinabing mali (I did not say anything wrong). For me, even if I’m not running, I would want a student leader who stays true to this principle of integrity. We should not tolerate any sense of deception, any sense of corruption,” she said.
France, however, said she will not speak in detail about the allegation until the people involved are included in the discussion.
“Itong mga ganitong bagay, hindi ito pinag-uusapan dito. Malaking insulto siya sa student body na ito yung batayan nila sa paglabas ng black propaganda na walang konteksto, hindi inalam kung ano talaga ang nangyari (These kinds of things are not talked about here. It’s a big insult to the student body that this topic will be used as the basis for black propaganda when it has been taken out of context, when they did not know what really happened),” she said.
“Ang eleksyon ay ‘di personality politics; it’s about principles, kung anong napatunayan ng partido para sa pagtataguyod ng interes ng masa at mag-aaral (Election is not about personality politics; it’s about principles. What has been proven by the party with regard to pursuing the interests of the masses and the students),” France added.
ISA candidates, meanwhile, distanced themselves from the bribery issue involving Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar – UP System (BUKLURAN UP SYSTEM), a political organization of which the party is a member.
The incident, which happened during the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) December last year, involved the attempt by some members of Bukluran to bribe a chairperson of a student council in UP Visayas with P2000 in exchange for support for a position on the rules for the selection of the student regent.
ISA’s president, Leor Jyle Sulit, who is currently running for CMC representative to the University Student Council, withheld giving a detailed comment on the issue as it is still under investigation.
“Hindi po dumaan sa amin kung nagkaroon ba mismo ng bribery (It did not go through us if there even was a bribery). We will not accuse; we will not say that there is bribery. There is an investigative body for it and we have to respect that before we throw allegations and accusations. Patunayan muna bago tayo magbato,” he said.
For her part, Ghodsinia said due process must be followed in the quest to prove the allegations of bribery.
“In the case that Bukluran is really involved in it, then due process must be [upheld] and we do not tolerate it,” she said.
Photos by Joshua Dalupang