Oratory Consultation

I couldn’t help but laugh during the final university-wide consultation on the 2009 Draft Code of Student Conduct. Everything was just so funny – in a frustrating kind of way.

There’s no doubt that the draft has problems: there was no student representation during the drafting process and some rules regarding tambayans were disagreeable. But what’s more disagreeable was how the consultation turned out.

It started peacefully at first: the students put forward their concerns and the drafting committee addressed them. However, when it was clear that students cannot be part of the committee, things started to get heated. Some students started saying that the committee (or the whole system) violates the rights the students, which student activists in the past had fought for. In return, a dean said that the present committee members could think about the students’ interests because they were activists before. This resulted to a loud and challenging “Ohhh?!” from – where else? – the present student activists themselves. An even louder and more violent reaction issued when one of the committee members called the activists ‘noisy students.’

Everything went downhill after that. It became a “battle of contexts” as my friend called it: present student activists, who claim to know the students’ interests, versus faculty members, some of which took part in the First Quarter Storm, and who also claim to know the students’ interests. As for the rest of the students whose interests were being debated, they were largely missing.

As much as I admire the activists for their strong will, I find that their aggressiveness is sometimes misplaced. No matter how much they disagree with the drafting committee, they should still give the members due respect. After all, they’re still our professors. How could we show them that we deserve a student representative, that we could sit with them and contribute to the Code’s revisions (most of which focuses on student discipline), when we could not do something as simple as letting them speak without interference? With the way things were going at the time, I wasn’t surprised when a female professor finally said, “Bakit kayo nago-Ooohhh? Gumaganun din ba kami kapag kayo naman ang nagsasalita?”

The committee members had their shortcomings too. I, for one, also think that the comment about the activists as ‘noisy students’ was uncalled for. Then again, it could no longer be avoided since the discussion was not really a discussion anymore but more of a tampuhan session, which settled down into an oratory consultation. It was disappointing, really.

As the night progressed, it became clear that even though the students and the professors seem to be engaged in dialogue – they were not. By 7:30 pm, the activists had finished their speeches and the committee members had a look on their faces that seemed to say ‘We knew this was coming.’ We still did not have a student representative, and I was tired from standing for two hours straight. ▪