I went to UP Baguio yesterday to check things out, to see what happened to my school. It felt great to be back home, but I was greeted with the most disgusting thing to ever grace the beautiful lobby of the IB’s…
Shit, USC elections na naman.
Don’t get me wrong: in one of my past lives, I was a member of the UP Baguio University Student Council. While I’m not exactly the best-functioning member of the USC, I did my part in making the USC work. I am merely a footnote to some of the greats: Ace Quijada, Ben Fernandez, Deo Onda. If anything, I would probably be remembered for being the councilor who came from the oddest of places: not because I came from Outcrop, or because I was a 5th year student running for a 4th year seat, but because I deride campus politics. To stand on that stage a couple of years ago to deliver my “You have nothing to lose but your chains” gimmick-speech is one of the low points of my stay in college.
In the perfect world, I have nothing at stake now when it comes to the welfare of the UP Baguio student community: I ran under ACS a few years ago, but I do not have strong ties to ACS. But this is not the perfect world: maybe this old dog still reserves the right to teach the puppies the way of serving the studentry. UP Baguio faces different problems and issues now compared to what we experienced before. Perhaps even bigger problems, now that this year’s USC will be saddled with the onus of being the “Centennial Council.”
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If there’s any single ax I can grind against campus politics, it’s that nobody that I know of will stand for student-centered politics. There’s a lot of non-issues – for all intents and purposes, bullshit – being hurled around in questions like oil price hikes, the legitimacy of GMA, political killings, and so on during the conduct of an SC election. So freaking what? I’ve been in UP for such a long time to know about what the issues of the students are: long lines at the photocopying machines, the lack of running water, the absence of drinking fountains, the dearth of tambayans.
I think that at least one student will agree with me that he or she could care less about what a particular candidate thinks about Jun Lozada if he or she can’t flush the toilet at the 20’s. Or have a proper tabo, not the kind of pail fashioned out of a gallon bottle. Non-issues? I don’t think so.
Laugh all you want about a person who will propose to give you a roll of toilet paper in every comfort room, but given the chance, I will vote for that person. Student-centered politics means, to play on Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the student back in.” That, I think, is a catchy way to put it, or perhaps a “students-first” policy. To me, the inalienable right to an equitable and affordable education is just as inalienable as the right of a student to drink clean water. The inalienable right of a student group to stay on campus beyond extremely restricting curfew hours is just as inalienable as this very same student’s right to have a safe, properly-lighted campus. The inalienable right of a student to have a “smoke-free UP” is just as inalienable as this very same student’s right to have a trash can inside a classroom.
If you don’t have those things at your disposal, maybe yes, you do suffer from campus repression.
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Ganito lang naman sa akin, mga ading sa UP Baguio. Isyu ng estudyante ang intindihin ninyo: kung di niyo mabigyan ng solusyon ang mga “mabababaw” na isyu, di niyo mabibigyan ng solusyon ang malalalim na isyu. Kung aasa na lang kayo sa kakanta at huhubad na estudyante sa miting de avance, umasa na rin kayo na mapagkakatiwalaan ninyo ang kandidatong ito na kakanta at huhubad pagdating sa trabaho sa SC.
Galing sa isang matanda na na tulad ko, sana’y alalahanin ninyo na isang taon ng buhay-estudyante niyo ang inilalaan ninyo sa susunod na Konseho ng Mag-Aaral. Huwag ninyong sayangin ang boto ninyo. Kung bakit binibigyan ko ng halaga ang malinis na tubig at mga lugar na puwede kayong tumambay ay dahil nung nariyan pa kami, hindi namin naranasang magkaroon ng ganoong mga bagay.
Iboto ninyo ang estudyanteng magsisilbi sa interes ninyo bilang mga estudyante: hindi sa interes ng kanino man, partido man ito o iba pa.
Unawain ninyo: ang isang Iskolar ng Bayan ay estudyante rin, na may pangangailangang pang-estudyante.