For there are junior gods fast growing tall

(Appeared in the Dumaguete Metro Post 30th March 2014, Me being provocative again!)

For there are junior gods fast growing tall

 

The office of NORSU President Don Real recently made a detailed response to all the grievances raised in a demonstration held by NORSU students earlier this month.

It was not clear to me during the demo what the students were actually rallying against (it was evident the student leaders behind it did not know how to organize a demo properly), but conversations with my students, the subsequent reports, and finally the issue-by-issue response of the President’s office revealed that the students were accusing Real’s administration of “oppression,” involving the suspension of several student leaders, the No Permit-No Exam policy, the alleged arbitrary dismissal of a university official, and accusations of financial abuse on Real’s part.

The official response, posted as a large tarpaulin in the main campus, is available upon request from the office of the University President.

But what is striking about the response, and what I would like to call attention to, is how Real addressed the particular matter of the suspension of several student leaders, and the subsequent accusations of “oppression” relating to it.

In a news article in the Dumaguete Metro Post earlier, NORSU Guihulngan Student President Razel Dawn Bacay was reported to have been suspended after failing to liquidate the budget she was responsible for. The subsequent reports on this have mostly thrown a subtle, sympathetic light on Bacay, who would not be able to graduate due to the suspension. It is by this sympathetic light that the protesting students decry “oppression”.

But Real’s response puts the spotlight on the underlying issue: the said honorable student had failed to be transparent.

The other details pertaining to this case were even more shocking: it turns out the unliquidated expenses amounted to over a hundred thousand pesos; and it was the members of the Guihulngan campus SG who filed a complaint against their own president.

But perhaps the most scandalous of all facts that the response reveals is that this is not an isolated case, as the other suspended students have similarly performed gross breaches of transparency: top of the list is the case of the governor of the Main Campus’ College of Education, who admitted in a written statement to having mishandled P288,000 worth of student money.

Now we must note here that because NORSU is a state university, that’s public money the students are mishandling.

Although rather Machiavellian on his part, what Real has done is shift the conversation from vague accusations of his “oppressiveness” to serious questions, backed by figures and paperwork, of how our “student leaders” are conducting themselves.

From being the responsible leaders voicing concerns in behalf of their student constituents, these “student leaders” are now revealed to be corrupt young TraPos, cry-babying with this demonstration because accountability is demanded of them.

Real has practically paved the way for a purge of our student politicians.

And I call for this purge, for our student politics is sick, the roots of our national political system rotting, in spite of its youth.

As something of a student polemicist in my younger days, I’ve tangoed with “student leaders” enough to say that the vast majority of them are lip-serving, power -hungry, credential-greedy responsibility whores.

A campaign pledge of “I will not promise anything but I will try to do my very best,” or for the more creative ones, platitudes like “better student leadership”, “because you deserve more!”, the very original “Kayo ang boss ko!”, and all that claptrap that don’t really mean anything.

When they get elected, they appoint their friends to committees or as secretaries, use their respective offices as hangouts for their barkadas, and almost never listen to the ordinary student who voted for them. Large amounts of money are spent at their discretions.

Often, they take many responsibilities at once, practically do not perform in any of them, or at most, performing with mediocrity because they’ve stretched themselves too much, then use the workload they hoarded for themselves as an excuse.

And at the end of their uneventful term, they find a sense of self-satisfaction at completing the paperwork, organizing the year’s events, and they go away with the credentials in their CVs, but leaving behind no legacies.

They are snails on the pavement, their trail of slime glistening in freshness but disappearing once it dries up, or when the rain washes it away.

For yes, while they may be very visible, our “student leaders” are learning the ropeworks to that convenient term endemic to our political jargon and landscape: epal, doing nothing worthwhile but pretending to be busy and important.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an example to cite of a student politician improving the condition of students in general. And let’s not even get into the SK debate!

Real has simply reminded the NORSU student officials nemo est supra legis and dura lex sed lex. But it seems even the rudimentary datum perficiemus munus is lost to their vocabulary.

And I can say this sort of youth is worse than delinquents, because while delinquents are results of poor upbringing, we actually breed these snails with our education and youth development systems.

Our society has given them the flattery of responsibility, and they wear it like coronets as they lord over “less active” students, act important, and, as cases such as in NORSU reveal, pilfer student money like some God-anointed aristocracy.

We have for decades bred “student leaders” who seek position to be someone rather than to do something — the root cause, I suspect, of our unhealthily personality-based politics.

Rizal’s now over-quoted pronouncement of the youth being the future of our nation suddenly assumes an ominous tone.

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