Every time when we are pushed through the corners by the oppressors, there is no other alternative but to struggle.
Last June 30, the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest policy-making body of the University, has approved the new Code of Student Conduct (CSC) for UP Diliman despite the objections from Student Regent Neill Macuha, together with other student leaders because of its repressive characteristic.
It might not be too long before students all throughout the UP system be shackled by the same repressive code as Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan suggested that this shall also be adopted to other constituent universities.
The controversial Student Code of Conduct, which has been in the making for the past five years, is a set of “standard norms and proper conduct of students” which is set to replace its 1998 version. However, the code cannot hide its repressive nature as it presents various ways that ranges from vague provisions that will penalize “disruptive” behaviors, to blatant rulings that hinders students’ right to organize.
Section 1.3.1 and 2.2.1 of the CSC states that acts causing disturbance and “breach of peace” will be sanctioned with penalties ranging from a 15-day suspension to expulsion from the University. This is actually one of the booby traps hidden in the CSC as it has not been clarified in the code what activities can be classified as a “breach of peace”. Thus, it can be used by the administration to suppress protest actions—arguing that such mobilizations cause disturbances and thereby threatening them with the said penalties.
Moreover, Section 2.2.1 of the CSC also prohibits students with less than one semester of residency in the University to join student organizations. Meanwhile, the recruitment ban on fraternities and sororities are extended into one-year of residency. Macuha even revealed that one of the rationale behind the motion for the recruitment ban is the recent case wherein a sophomore student from De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde died due to hazing. Such provision is an outright attack to the students’ right to organize guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution itself.
It even gets more apparent that this is part of the railroaded plans to commercialize UP education if we are to look at the time it has been passed: Most students were on their respective provinces for the four-month vacation giving them limited avenue to air their dissent; the academic calendar shift, which itself has drawn disapproval from the student body, is already being implemented; and the faulty Socialized Tuition System (STS) is trending on social media due to the outrage of the students. For an administration which seeks to have full control over the University, passing a student code that suppresses the student opposition is a sly, yet sinister move.
In reality, this Code is irrelevant to the actual concerns of the students in accordance to welfare services. Not only does it violates the rights of the students to organize, it also hinders them to unite and respond to issues that concern the studentry. It is with this unbearable contradiction that we, as a unified student body, shall call for the scrapping of the repressive code and instead pass the rights-based Student Handbook of Rights and Responsibility (SHRR).
As iskolar ng bayan, it is our avowed task to defend the principles of a national, democratic, and pro-people University of the Philippines. We must not remain idle while these principles crumble right in front of us. It is when the odds are overwhelming and the tyrants have grown ruthless than ever that we should link our arms, clench our fist, and together—express the thundering dissent of the 60,000 who already had enough with the flurry of oppressive schemes.
Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes it. As UP students, we should continue the struggle towards a pro-student education system.