Weeks of campaigns and debates all lead to one thing: a new line-up of students leaders expected to serve the college for another academic year.
In March last year, 13 seats for the College of Mass Communication Council (CMCSC) were filled, dominated by local party Interdependent Student-Centered Activism (ISA) with eight seats. ISA standard bearers Anj Sebastian and Macky Manicad lead this year’s council as chairperson and vice chairperson. The incumbent treasurer, journalism representatives, and film representatives, meanwhile, come from the local arm of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP).
But the results of the elections will always remain accelerators to the tale – the green light, but seldom the runway of change and improvements that need to be carried out. Before the seats become occupied by new faces, there is a need to assess the current council’s performance throughout the academic year.
Hits and misses
Aided by her party’s concept of alternative activism, chairperson Anj Sebastian envisioned One Maskom to unify CMC while strengthening its academic core.
The CMC Cup, a college-wide sports competition, was launched December 12 last year and involved students from the Journalism, Film, Broadcast Communication and Communication Research departments in a week-long sportsfest. The Mass Media Students’ Choice Awards, Sebastian’s flagship program, was developed into Gawad Daluyong, dubbed as a “student-initiated award-giving body in the field of media and communication.” Gawad Daluyong awaits its final execution in March.
Manicad’s aptly-named SuperBase aimed to establish a comprehensive database of basic profiles, projects and events of CMC student organizations for ease of publicity and promotion. This initiative, however, was only made during the Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) season of the first semester and was not sustained and regularly updated, along with PrimeRead, which was pegged as a primer for the use of facilities and as aid for the annual org recognition in both the local and university levels.
Project FreEdom, spearheaded by Film Representatives Che Tagyamon and Robi Sarmiento, made the Council stand as bridge between students and detainee Maricon Montajes with the former’s continued support.
But there are other projects that were only left printed on campaign flyers. Proposals to streamline the coordination among council, college and org events, as well as to organize the room reservation system (Room-arampa and MASKOM–portable), both under the leadership of incumbent secretary Mari Arambulo, were not systematically implemented. Organizations followed the old rules on room reservations which still caused occasional overlapping schedules and delays. Arambulo clarified on Hot Off the Grill, however, that the administration still needs to familiarize themselves with Google Drive before the new online protocol can be used.
Treasurer Keisha Mayuga’s proposed CMC-walat initiative to publish regular budget updates and discussions on the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) did not materialize either.
ObleVision, the moniker for a proposed monthly online news channel on the affairs of the university, proved to be just a vision that never materialized. This was a proposed project of incumbent CMC Representative to the University Student Council (USC) Carla Cucueco, who was earlier criticized for her poor attendance in official meetings of the USC. What was left was a banner project with the USC of a post-SONA analysis forum on the implications of the president’s address to governance, media, economics and the social sciences, dubbed as Kung Ako SONA si PNoy.
Several hits and misses also translate at the level of the department representatives. While some projects pushed through, proposals for workshops, a photojournalism contest, and a CMCSC newsletter remain inexistent as of this writing – barely a month away from the end of the school year.
Need for deeper engagement
Last year, the college saw a myriad of issues clamoring for attention and action. Janet Napoles and the P10-billion pork barrel scam shook national politics and sparked discussions on the lack of transparency and accountability in government. Typhoon Yolanda severely affected the lives and economies of Filipinos especially in Visayas, where the UP Tacloban and Palo campuses are.
There were also threats to UP’s honor and excellence amidst budget cuts, privatization and state neglect, as depicted by the death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada, the plagiarism case of UP Diliman graduate student Mark Joseph Solis, the recently-approved STFAP and Student Code revisions, and the shift in the academic calendar from June to August. Among the issues mentioned, the CMCSC failed to release any official statement to assert the stance of the student body. There were attempts to engage students in discussions about these issues by sharing posts through social media, but there were also no projects initiated to concretely address the given issues to the core.
The highlight of council efforts was felt during the Mass Media Awareness Month (MMAM) last November. Launched in 2011, the MMAM is the flagship project of UP CMC. This year, the event was headed by Arambulo and Tagyamon. MMAM kicked off with a series of talks on internet workshop, filmmaking, and broadcast journalism. The fourth year commemoration of Maguindanao Massacre, meanwhile, engaged the students not only in the act of remembering, but also in learning to fight impunity through roundtable discussions, an exhibit, human chain and Lugawan for Maguindanao.
Living up to the duties
With our college’s departments dubbed as Centers of Excellence, UP CMC needs a working council that will uphold the rights and welfare of its students while recognizing that problems within the college are almost always linked to bigger societal issues.
The current council is successful in initiating academic projects which can be avenues for discourses on practice within the field, but the council’s voice needs to resonate across a wider horizon of national, university and college issues—a feat that the next set of elected leaders must consider. Now is the best time to lay out these facts to point out to aspiring CMCSC candidates that the College means business and expects tangible results. CMC will be celebrating its 50th founding anniversary next year, adding to the already growing pressure on their shoulders.
What do we make of empty promises? Beyond witty taglines and well-rehearsed presentations, CMC students look forward to realistic projects and student leaders who are capable of translating from paper to action. – By Mariejo Mariss Ramos, Melissa Luz Lopez, Alyssa Joy Jose, Charmaine Ycasas, Dexter Cabalza, Pathricia Ann Roxas, Bryan Ezra Gonzales, Roleen Camille Delos Reyes and Alliah Czarielle Guerra
(This article was earlier published in Botong Isko 2014, Tinig ng Plaridel’s special election primer. Read it here.)