February 8, 2011
On February 17, 2011, we shall all participate in an exercise that can define the character of our new University and College Councils. Through our votes, we can elect candidates who can represent us and fight for our interests on current issues and policies which threaten our future as students and scientists.
We recently had a 1.39 billion peso budget cut, the largest in history of the University. We students reacted by participating in the campus-wide mass actions opposing the cuts. During these events, the College of Science studentry mobilized one of the largest student delegations within UP Diliman.
The protests were a success but the repercussions of these cuts are still with us. There is the threat of laboratory and tuition fee increases. The decrease in the College’s maintenance and operating expenses would translate to lesser student services and even more charges for students to shoulder. Austerity measures are also being implemented. On nights when we have to leave school late, we find ourselves walking along dark and unsecured streets as the number of guards was cut down.
These problems have been taking their toll on the quality of education in the University. The government continues to abandon its responsibility to provide quality education as if education has nothing to do with the country’s development.
While the government continues to reduce the budget allocation for education year after year, the university administration continues to yield to government’s policies. It regularly raises tuition and other fees and allows private companies to exploit our assets for their gain. The Ayala Technohub is a prime example of this, with call centers and commercial spaces masquerading as a “science and technology park.”
Outside the University, we and our families also have to put up with other expenses, such as fare hikes and rising water and electricity prices. In addition, there is the assault against the students’ right to organize with the impending passage of the Code of Student Conduct. The continuing erosion of students’ rights is a threat to us all.
Facing all these, we are all challenged to stand up and go beyond the four walls of our laboratories in pursuit of honor and excellence—but we should go beyond their traditional and limited meaning.
As Iskolars ng Bayan, we define honor as fulfilling our duties to the people. We define excellence in the context of advancing the students and the people’s interests at all times.
We therefore seek a Student Council that will not isolate itself from the people it is supposed to serve and represent. A Council that has a firm grasp on the concrete conditions of the students in the University. More importantly, we seek a Council that has a profound comprehension of the links between these conditions and the state of our nation. We seek a Student Council that recognizes the power that is inherent in collective action and mobilizes students to formulate and become part of the solution.
We seek leaders who define honor and excellence not in terms of myopic individual gain, but from the point of view of the people who need Iskolar ng Bayan the most. We seek leaders who refuse to remain in an ivory tower, and who will instead keep their feet on the ground with direct and concrete actions to help the people. We seek leaders who recognize that we, as future scientists, want science to serve the people and promote progress for the common good.
REDEFINE HONOR AND EXCELLENCE.
MAKE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SERVE THE PEOPLE!
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