Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Sanggunian is Obsolete

It has been half a year since the current Sanggunian officers have taken their oaths as the governing and representative body of the students of the Loyola Schools. In a few months time, they will be replaced by a new set of officers. As the first semester of their term draws to a close, it is more than fitting to ask the question – How is the Sanggunian?
It is fairly common to hear students complain that the Sanggunian is not doing anything, that it is not effective, visible, proactive, nor relevant any more. Going back to the vision-mission of our student council, we find that their task is to participate in student formation. But given the recent strings of parties that our Sanggunian is known for, is it really doing anything that could be approximately called student formation?
Our members have discreetly approached those who are within the structure of the Sanggunian and asked them what exactly they are doing. One of the recurring answers is that they are busy attending meetings. It is true that Sanggunian officers are busy attending meetings but what exactly are they talking about? We have no idea. A few weeks ago, we e-mailed the Secretary-general, asking that we may be given a copy of all minutes of these Sanggunian meetings. As of the present, the Secretary-general has yet to respond. Some officers claim that these meetings are for discussing their upcoming projects. Are they finally hatching a project that would encapsulate that catchy tag-line we heard during the Mititng de Avance – “Going Local”? What ever happened to the “7 Innovations”? Have the students of the Ateneo lost their senses that they fail to see these platforms in action or did we just hear promises written on air?
Some officers claim that they are busy representing the students in the various school committees. Can anyone inform us what committees are they representing us in? Can we be informed what is happening in those committee meetings? Or are these meetings just about trivial matters like the number of pebbles in Zen Garden? Are they actually fighting for student interest? If the continuous increase in the tuition fees is to be a measure, we believe that they are not.
On July 15, the Human Security Act was enforced. We asked the question – “What will Ateneo do?” Sanggunian, the bastion of student involvement, responded to our challenge by hosting a series of talks on the controversial law. What has happened since then? Has the Sanggunian released any official statement on whether it has or has not supported the HSA? It has been months since the issue broke out, yet we still see no concrete movements on the side of Ateneans.
If asked, “Would it matter if there were no Sanggunian?”, we would guess the majority’s answer (no abstain included) to be NO. In short, we believe that at their current pace, the Sanggunian is an obsolete institution.
Is there still hope for the Sanggunian? As a popular brand would say, “Impossible is Nothing”.
First, the Sanggunian should tackle relevant issues that would directly affect the students such as tuition fee increases, the safety of the students along Katipunan, the unreliable wireless internet connection, the “unfriendliness” of the campus towards differently able students, the limited number of computers in the popular red light district of the RSF, and the increase of prices in the cafeteria, among others. The Sanggunian should not be primarily concerned about parties but on delivering quality services to the student body. But there is more to student services than lending calculators, bibles, and umbrellas.
Second, if the Sanggunian manages to provide such quality services, why not let the students know about it? The Ateneo Online Bulletin is neat, but it surely is not enough. Why not utilize the promo board in EDSA walk? While you’re at it, why not post the minutes of the various meetings of the school committees and the various school boards and of the central board? Let the students know what is happening in those meetings. Let us know how “well” you are representing us!
Third, why not hold an event that is similar to the presidential SONA? The Sanggunian president mentioned to us that he actually gives a “State of the Sanggunian” report monthly to block representatives. Why not deliver one every semester? If students are willing to listen to the winners of the last senatorial elections (we do hope that this event will push through), the more they should be enthusiastic about those whom they elect in the student council. Or are you afraid that your speeches wouldn’t even last for an hour?
Sanggunian, we believe that there is much work to be done in your side. The recent strings of failure of elections and vacancies in positions should be more than enough to jolt you. Please prove us wrong when we say that the Sanggunian is obsolete.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ateneo Doesn't Care

A few minutes or an hour from now, the verdict of the Sandiganbayan will be read to Joseph Estrada. What are Ateneans doing? They're still talking about the Ateneo-La Salle game. To my left, a guy is giggling at the Multiply account of who knows who and the girl to my right is cramming a reaction paper on an Entablado play.

VP Cuyegkeng, you should have suspended classes. I'm not expecting Ateneans to rally on the street. At least they'd have an inkling of knowledge on what's happening outside.