The mouth cannot remain still while the spirit is groaning.
This morning, as I was scrolling through some notifications, I came across an old Facebook status which I posted exactly two years ago:
“We don’t fight ignorance by asserting more than what we understand. Nowadays, it is dreadfully easy to fabricate opinions—much easier to rail them out online, but there’s always a time to be silent and a time to speak up. The world is already filled with too much unnecessary noise.”
Reading it now, I can only imagine the degree of my indifference because enough time has passed for me to realize that we can no longer afford a “time to be silent”. Sometimes, in a world so deranged, noise is necessary to disrupt a false sense of peace. That is why we must no longer be surprised to see the general youth, our peers, actively rallying their concerns through various platforms (oral, digital, or print). Because as much as it is a manifestation of our youthful zeal and angst, it is also a profound corollary to the incompetence of larger sociopolitical systems, bureaucracies, and institutions.
I question those who scold the youth for “going against authority”, labeling them immediately as “negatrons”, when it is a reaction to more relevant problems of corruption, injustice, and negligence prevalent in countries, governments, and even in schools.
Nevertheless, there is still a mild lesson to be learned here.
The continuous dialogue initiated by both the SAMAHAN Central Board and the Ateneo de Davao University administration has been helpful in shedding some light to some worry and confusion. I recognize the efforts made by our student council, the faculty, administrators, and all the non-teaching personnel in formulating strategic plans and preparing the appropriate mechanisms to adapt to their proposed shift to e-learning.
But there are still some areas that remain unaddressed.
As of writing, I am still waiting for updates regarding the issue of pending balances. There are students, myself included, who cannot enroll in their required summer classes because of this reason. In fact, I know of other students with unsettled accounts that go beyond Php 30,000. The problem also extends to working scholars whose service hours were disrupted due to the early suspension of classes last March 13, 2020. As the threat of COVID looms larger in every city, province, and household so is the fear of material and financial scarcity. Fortunately, the office of Finance is said to have allowed for more “lenience and understanding” when it comes to the collection of fees. As to the extent of this lenience, we are yet to discover. Though working scholars can avail a subsidy of Php 15,000 for the summer classes, it comes with a painful condition: their previous accounts from the last semester must be paid/cleared or else, they cannot enroll.
Though there are still many other concerns (data issues, individual learning preferences, etc.), specific and actual matters such as the ones stated are those that need to be heard. Yet, they cannot be heard unless they are first spoken. We need, all the more, to listen to the voices of scholars, teachers, freelance working students, dormers, the stranded, and even the families of both workers and students. Every sector needs to have a representative body if there is to be dialogue. If not an organized body, then just a voice.
That is why I am urging my fellow students to keep raising their concerns. It is time to speak.
Go ask questions. Go clarify issues. Go read updates. Go seek answers.
If you must, demand urgency because we still need shed light on many things.
Since online learning is being presented as more of an inevitability than a possibility, I am hoping that the University will remain faithful to the promises it has recently made pertaining to its implementation.
It will require immense effort, constant collaboration, and transparency to attain a “flexible, accessible, justified, and dignified” education.
I hope those are not just hollow words. I hope all of us as a community will ensure that no one is indeed left behind and no voice is left unheard.