youth activism

Student leaders: Extend causes beyond campus borders

Chris Burnet Ramos

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Student leaders: Extend causes beyond campus borders

YOUTH. Students during Move PH event u201cBy the youth, for the youthu201d at Rappler office, February 17.

Chris Burnet Ramos/Rappler

'It’s important for students to foster a sense of community among stakeholders because doing so will create allies among those who support the same advocacies,' says one student leader

MANILA, Philippines – During a recent gathering of almost a hundred youth leaders and campus journalists at the Rappler office, students agreed they should organize into alliances to create awareness about key issues beyond their respective campuses.

During a panel discussion on Saturday, February 17, in Move PH’s “By the youth, for the youth” on-ground event, Explained PH editor-in-chief Archie Bergosa stressed the importance of consistently organizing students to bring their causes outside their usual communities. 

For example, the battle against the cutting of 83 trees in the North Carpark of Ateneo de Manila University also jibed with similar, if not the same, issues beyond the campus – transport and climate crises – thus making the extension of the cause crucial.

For Bergosa, it’s important for students to foster a sense of community among stakeholders because doing so will create allies among those who support the same advocacies.

Blue Mobility president and co-founder Maxine Cuartero said it is important to acknowledge both differences and similarities in mindsets between parties involved – especially between the youth and administration officials – and find opportunities to organize both communities effectively.

University of the Philippines (UP) student regent Sofia Jan Trinidad said during the panel discussion that challenges inside campuses can only be addressed by consultations with students themselves. They will only get to understand pressing issues in their communities if student councils present their campaigns to the student community.

Trinidad, who was also one of the mobilizers for the housing of Palestinian refugees in their campus, said that push back against anti-student policies by the university administration is important, too. 

Students, she said, must insist on asserting their space on campus. “Hindi kami nag-a-adjust. We assert our space in the university and this should also be a practice sa atin na in-a-assert natin ‘yung sarili natin sa society, kung saan tayo nakatira, kasi kabataan tayo, they put prime sa atin bilang youth, [bilang] mga kabataan na pag-asa tayo ng bayan, pero bakit parang wala silang tiwala sa kakayahan natin or ni-li-limit nila ‘yung kaya nating gawin,” said Trinidad.

(We don’t adjust. We assert our space in the university and this should also be a practice among us that we assert ourselves in society, or wherever we live, because we are the youth, they put [primary importance to] us as the country’s future, but why does it seem like they don’t trust our capabilities or limit what we can do?)

Growing democratic spaces

Heather Andres, a development studies student, highlighted three “baby steps” that could help grow democratic campus spaces for students: consistent student clamor, maximized communication with the administration, and genuine organization of the student body.

“We’re not backing down from what you’re telling us,” she said, referring to university administrations. Being the school’s biggest stakeholders, she said that students must not let their concerns be set aside in academic spaces. University boards should hear students who want to uphold their welfare.

Marcuz Red Tevez from the National Teachers College also shared the importance of the government’s reallocation and prioritization of the budget for education. An insufficient budget allocated to education institutions is the root cause of all problems in the sector, he said.

A sufficient budget for schools and universities, he said, will provide wider educational access to students from remote provinces. He emphasized that it will not only improve facilities and quality education to schools, but also provide higher wages for teachers and professors.

Last week, students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines protested against looming commercialization of campus services after House committee on higher and technical chairperson Representative Mark Go said that state universities should not always rely on the national government for their budgets. 

During the deliberation on the National Polytechnic University bills, he argued that income-generating projects must be done by these universities to help the state address budget issues.

Students then slammed the lawmaker, saying that commercialization of campuses only allows the national government to “escape its responsibility” of prioritizing funds for state universities and colleges. –

Chris Burnet Ramos is a campus journalist from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). A senior news writer of The Communicator, he is also an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024.

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