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1 CHAMPIONING THE MINORITY : A proposal for the Student Regent Selection

CHAMPIONING THE MINORITY


A proposal for the Student Regent Selection
Prepared by: Allynna Haneefa A. Macapado


No student shall be denied admission to the national university by reason solely of age,
gender, nationality, religious belief, economic status, ethnicity, physical disability or political
opinion or affiliation. Sec. 9 Democratic Access, the UP Charter (R.A. 9500)

In recent years, we have seen the long touted neoliberal turn of education unfold right
before our very eyes. What was then a highfalutin economic term is now a material
condition of the university. Data on state spending on UP from the 1980s to present tells us
but a single thing: the state has abandoned UP. The national university has become a profit-
oriented institution for the capable few. This situation goes contrary to the basic egalitarian
ideal set forth by the UP Charter and guaranteed by the law.

The history of the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) is the history of our collective struggle
to defend UPs public character. Since its inception, it has embodied the call of students for
accessible and quality tertiary education. While the Student Regent is the mandated body
politic of the students in the Board of Regents, the SRs voice the voice of the largest
stakeholder, has always been treated as the minority.

The real challenge for the OSR now is to bring back its bargaining power on the negotiating
table. But, it should remain cognizant that dialogues or negotiations on their own cannot
stand alone for achieving concrete gains and concessions. Our history will tell us that
victories won inside BOR meetings are but a by-product of a strong student and community
movement. While employing effective diplomacy and table battle skills on decision-making
processes, the OSR should also be keen in empowering the students and nurturing a strong
student movement. It must recognize the potency of its constituents and rely on their
collective strength.

The OSR should be resourceful in consolidating the ranks of the students. While remaining
true to its core principles, the office must seek creative ways to reach out to students,
engage them with our campaigns, and build solidarity with them so that they too, can own
the struggle.

Along with the students, it must ensure that the university upholds its thrust of democratic
governance. The office must encourage participation in decision-making process in the
university and seek representation at all levels. It shall seek ways to promote transparency
and hold each official accountable.

Lastly, the OSR must fortify itself as an institution. It must be an effective venue in raising
the consciousness of students and in forwarding their rights and interests. The OSR should
uphold and pursue the democratic aspirations of the broad masses of students it represents.
This means effectively leading the students in their struggle against continued repression
and commercialization of education. It should also serve as a venue for students to forge
ties with teachers, faculty, REPS and the rest of the UP community. The clarion call for the
OSR, now more than over, is to champion the voice of the minority.

Recognizing such important role of the OSR, in the subsequent paragraphs are the
programs I propose for this year.

2 CHAMPIONING THE MINORITY : A proposal for the Student Regent Selection

The internal structure of the office shall be organized to accommodate direct representatives
from all constituent units (CU) for effective implementation and strengthening of system
wide campaigns and provide more efficient information dissemination. Local OSR Cores in
each constituent unit composed of student leaders and individual volunteers shall be
established. Local OSR Core officers shall be assigned specific tasks to ensure education and
research, campaigns and orgs and publication formations consolidation in each constituent
unit. Furthermore, a direct connection in each local council shall be institutionalized through
delegating permanent local council liasons. For instances wherein quick response actions
shall be made systemwide (e.g. relief drive and operations), the local OSR cores shall form
their own adhoc teams or quick response teams.

The OSR shall be at the forefront of the student movement in forwarding campaigns
concerning student rights and welfare. Together with the students, it shall assert our right
to accessible and quality education and strengthen the call for a higher full state subsidy not
just for UP but also for other state universities and colleges (SUCs). It shall be very critical
in analysing policies that manifest the rapid commercialization of education and lead the
students in opposing such policies. It shall further protect the students rights and welfare
by examining documents like the Student Code, propose to the BOR the scrapping of anti-
student provisions in them and provide alternative revisions to such provisions. It shall also
support local formations, organizations and councils in their fight for basic student services
like dormitory, health, scholarships, and security services. It shall also be able to forward
campaigns against the high militarization in some CUs. The call to free all political prisoners
and stop all forms of human rights violations, in which many UP students are victims of,
shall be carried by office. In these endeavours, the office shall maintain tight ties with
people knowledgeable on how to analyse the legalities of the BORs policies.

Being the only representative of the studentry in the highest policy-making body of the
university, it is vital that the Student Regent be able to comprehensively relay the
comments, opinions, concerns and demands of the largest stakeholder in the Board of
Regents. For this to be possible, a dialectical relationship between being approachable to
the students and approaching the students shall be maintained. It shall at all times be
accommodating and unbiased and at the end of the day, must always exercise its mandate
to protect and forward the students rights and welfare. Decentralized leadership trainings
for local council members, as well as organizations and publication formations members
may be conducted for the constituents to be informed of the existence and the important
role of the office and of course to empower them through various activities to be offered in
the said training. The student regent shall uphold a consultative leadership by conducting
regular consultation in each constituent unit to serve as a venue for the students to voice
out their concerns and at the same time give them an update on the system wide image of
the university. As much as possible, a student summit in each constituent unit shall also be
done for the primary purpose of consolidating the huge campaigns of the office to the
students, among others. The online media shall also be utilized by putting up online
grievance desks to address the geographical boundaries between the office and the
students.

The office shall be transparent and provide constant updates to the students on what is
happening in the Board of Regents. The agenda of each BOR meeting shall be announced to
the students as soon as it is set to allow insights, feedbacks and concerns of the students
regarding the agenda items be forwarded to the OSR immediately before the BOR meeting.
Also, every after BOR meeting, the student regent report shall be released as soon as
possible for the students to be enlightened on what were discussed and decided during the
meetings. Aside from an available hard copy of such document, the online media shall be
maximized for this. Also, for better transparency measures, the office shall push for a
3 CHAMPIONING THE MINORITY : A proposal for the Student Regent Selection

possible option to allow observers inside BOR meetings, which could be co student leaders
or campus journalists. Financial transparency of the office shall also be exercised by
releasing semestral financial reports.

And lastly, the OSR, recognizing that the crisis of the Philippine society is systemic and that
the issues of the students are connected with the issues of the majority of the Filipino
people, shall ensure the studentrys tight connection with the basic masses. It shall be able
to maximize the institution to forward campaigns of other sectors system wide and relate
them to the education sector through forums and/or educational discussions. These venues
shall also be maximized to involve the students in national issues and encourage them to be
critiques of the government. The OSR shall support and join movements fighting for genuine
land reform, human rights, better wages and working conditions and oppose economic
policies which do not reflect a nationalist and pro people character. The office shall be open
for dialogues with the members of the other sectors of the society. Most importantly, the
office shall encourage students to integrate with the basic masses by organizing basic
masses integration opportunities for them to experience first hand the realities of
Philippine societal plights. The office, together with the other sectors of the society, shall
fight for genuine peace based on social justice.