Thursday, 20 March 2014

"If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence, then so be it."

"If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence then so be it."

(Or how a student had to face a case 
out of understanding one's opposition to an establishment's policy)

From the testimony of Macoy Mercolita

On a warm February afternoon in 2014 at a campus in Manila, students were all but in their usual chitchat, bystanding at the corridors or at the field as calls for consultation involving proposed Tuition and Other Fee Increases been voiced out by mass organizations inside. 

To most people, it seemed unusal to oppose proposed tuition hikes or certain controversial policies inside a private school; yet there are some who dares to listen and understand the reason behind opposing Tuition and Other Fee Increases (ToFI), or policies that are "Anti-Student" in character, or any other grievances knowing that it is part of academic freedom, regardless of being a private tertiary level education instution it is.

But to the administrators whom running the affairs of the school, as well as its apologetics, it meant an offense, a "disrespect" to the norms inside the campus, a possible disorder with their dissent to certain policies being voiced out by some students around. During the said activity, guards came to stop them from continuing, reprimand those who initiate, and even confiscate a flag and even an identification card (ID) coming from a political science student. 

That ironically, was just listening to their stand against ToFI and other policies inside Far Eastern University. He tried to insist his stand, and even appeaased those whom confiscate his ID in order to get it back; both he and the guards apologized to each other with the latter promised to have his ID return, only to found that he was accused of participating in that event, marking him as a "grave threat", and hence filed at the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and currently ongoing. His ID was even displayed at the entrance gate, and he himself had to face the same guard whom filed the case, is also the one whom accepted his apology for the activity he involved last Feb 28!

That student had not yet given a memo from the OSA regarding the case that he himself didn't  instagated. And although his ID had been returned, he felt embittered by the administrators for having him just named in that event, knowing that he did nothing other than listening to their reason for opposing, that somehow made he sympathized; much more that in the other camp would make a distorted one such as he who participated largely on that activity. 

And as for that last Feb 28 demonstration being stopped and had an ID of a certain invidual be confiscated, what kind of idea did these authorities made to stop no matter how legal they ought to voice out their grievances? Does it include those who listen out of interest, or symathize to the cause such as the person this writer had featured in this writeup?  There are even others who experienced harassments as well by the authorities!
Expect some people whom likely to say that FEU is at first a private school, a corporation, and that these people whom demonstrate against ToFI or any other controversial policies such as "No long hair" or "No hair color" are making an offense against the institution and hence liable for suspension or expulsion; and yet in a university or any other tertiary level education institution, whether state or private it is has to observe academic freedom same as academic excellence. In regards to those protests, it is natural for the majority of working-class students whom chose to study at schools presenting as "affordable" or "reasonable" to oppose yearly increases whether in tuition or in other fees citing rising costs of commodities (such as electricity, oil, basic needs so to speak) and low purchasing power of peso (regardless of the "higher" wages) as its evidence; much more in regards to other policies such as long hair for men, cross dressing gays and lesbians, and even hair color tried to be prohibited by the authorities. 

And with that academic freedom includes the right to oppose against controversial policies affecting the studentry like what this writer stated. From yearly increases in tuition and other fees to "anti-long hair" ordinances most, if not all students around may percieve them as repressive or unjust; while restraining it further may deem it as a mockery of what academic freedom should be. Why was that student should not heed closely those who oppose ToFI? Much more that if he sympathizes in their cause such as to end repression on campus and in the society? 
Is the quest for reason be just limited on the four corners of the room if not a personal matter less to be discussed? And if he's an activist like those chanting slogans, what's wrong in activism, particularly in taking interest in affairs affecting everyone, even the students around "University Belt" affected?

If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence then so be it, so as to unveil the paranoia happening around what an institution supposedly tolerates academic freedom and progressive instruction should be.