Thursday, August 12, 2010

Disturbing your so-called peace

Good day!

It has been two years since we released our last string of statements regarding the state of student politics in the Ateneo, and in that span of time, we have closely observed how the Sanggunian and the rest of the university responded to the challenge of breaking the predominant culture of complacency. While some groups rose up to heed the call of vigilance and critique, it is unfortunate that some institutional as well as individual practices in the Ateneo still retain the problematic character of imperviousness to the wider structural problems of society.

In light of its advocacy to perpetuate an ethos of critical discourse as a means to push Ateneans to ask difficult questions and, subsequently, to do even more difficult deeds to address the unsettling condition of university student politics, the Society wishes to contribute once more to the terrain of public dialog in the Ateneo.

The upcoming Freshmen and Special Elections for the Sanggunian remind us once more of our enormous task as a community to move away from paradigms of service and governance which isolate the student body from the harsh realities of Philippine society. Before incumbents and candidates alike protest this claim, we challenge them to take a look at the processes and beliefs they propagate: are they really taking the necessary time and effort to present their constituents with an analysis of Philippine society that is rooted in a concrete political program and ideology? Or are they (as how the Sanggunian-led project Bantay Presidente appears like) just there to offer Ateneans with a hodgepodge of information which substantially lack an insight on the structural and material basis of power in society?

There are a lot more examples in the Ateneo which we must pay due attention to. One of these is the still dismal condition of the political party system in the university. While the two established parties namely IBIG-Agila and Ignacio have won their share of seats in every election since their establishment, a more long-term analysis would lead us to the fact that these two parties ran on the logic of sheer utilitarianism more than a coherent and identifiable ideology. What has made this systemic problem worse is the fact that higher echelons of power seek to actively intervene and manipulate what should be an organic process of political identification, e.g. the establishment of a performance management system, stringent rules on party campaigning in elections, etc. As a result, Ateneans (especially freshmen as we speak) still suffer from the lack of candidates whose platforms have the potential to go beyond the activity-for-a-cause model of executing projects.

Another issue that the Society wishes to address is the Ateneo COMELEC’s myopic view of itself as a body which should merely execute logistical demands. It is in our belief that the Ateneo COMELEC should be at the forefront of pushing for electoral reforms which would then enable the deepening of student politics. Unfortunately, what Ateneans are seeing right now is but a student-led arm that propagates a culture of anti-politicization through its restrictive policies and its skewed priorities (i.e. launching automated elections while being silent about their past record of incompetence and the real need for electoral policies that are more democratic in character).

The return of the Gadfly Society is our way of sending a message that we are greatly unsettled by these still-existing practices and policies that restrict Ateneans from thinking and acting radically. We shall persist in doing our advocacy of disrupting complacency—whether it may be in thought or in action. We are not afraid to question. Ideas after all, as the renegade character V had famously quipped, are bulletproof.

No comments: