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University’s ‘we of indifference’

I supposed the University has its own subtle irony. While ‘social justice’ and ‘common good’ are projected outside, a minority inside the campus composed of contractual workers had apparently been left unnoticed.

Last January 2017, the agency that provides workforce services in our university issued a memorandum mandating all employees to wear their uniform for the entire week. The schedule of wearing a uniform was originally on weekdays. Consequently, several employees were surprised upon knowing such notice, claiming that it would be another financial burden.

Unfortunately, most of the workers chose to keep quiet save for one, who preferred not to be named in this article. He was courageous enough to tell Atenews about the said matter. According to this janitor, they were not given a chance to express their take on the abrupt change of policy. He pointed out that the agency should have conducted a consultation before imposing such policy.

The courage of the worker to question the authority and to ask for what he believes is his right surely inspires for those who really care. Unfortunately, he did not know where to go for help. He tried to ask the proper offices about this, but they told him that they could not do anything about it since the agency is not directly under the jurisdiction of the university administration.

Although I acknowledge that the University has no absolute control over the agency, I believe that they can do something about the issue. It’s saddening because the nature of contractualization discourages the employees to form a union, thus leaving the individuals voiceless and their community unrepresented. Complaint and concerns do not reach proper authorities.

So in response to this, I wrote a letter ought to be sent to the administration, politely addressing the complaints of these employees. Attached to the letter was a signature sheet showing the disapproval of the workers to the memorandum.

Even after a couple of weeks later, we failed to receive a report regarding the progress of the letter. Until one day, I met the janitor cleaning a comfort room. Surprisingly, he told me that the issue was resolved even though the letter and the campaign did not elicit a response. He added that the authorities had read the letter and that might have contributed in the decision to withdraw the said uniform policy.

While we are proud by the perception that the University has done much service to several communities outside, we unconsciously overlook the minority from within who allow us to enjoy a conducive learning environment.

True enough, our school is admirably one of the leading institutions in the country whose advocacies effectively serve the society with its ‘social justice’ and ‘common good’ battle cries. However, the minority from within apparently lacks proper representation in the operations of the University, as the janitor pointed out.

As students, we should not allow academics and other surmountable limitations in keeping us from commiserating with the plight of the voiceless ones. The fact that the janitor turned to us students after having been rejected by the authority provides us a lesson. Let us further extend the teachings and principles of this university both outside and inside our academic corners.

 

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