Wednesday this week at F305, the second reading of the 2014 SAMAHAN constitution became a heated one as commissioners debated on proposed motions, including CCO’s (Campus Clubs Organizations) wish for autonomy and the move for a foreign body representative in the student government.
The second reading was attended by 10 commissioners, whereas the first reading only had seven. Constitutional commissioner Rogelio Adlawan, 4th year Electrical Engineering student, started with the proposal of having a foreign representative to represent the foreign body, saying that the foreign students have long been clamoring to be represented in the student government.
“The student government should be open to all Ateneans to allow the marginalized, the physically voiceless, in SAMAHAN to participate”, said Adlawan.
Lee Jae Hee, a Korean, and on his 3rd year in Accounting Technology, represented the foreign body in the reading of the constitution, explaining the foreign body’s status in the University, and their need for a representation in the student government. Lee said that one of his goals was to aid in Ateneo’s globalization, thus needing authority to push through with the plan. He also added that the foreign students can help fill the vacancy that will arise with K-12.
“We’ll help fill the space [in Ateneo] for globalization,” reiterated Lee.
Lee also raised his concern regarding the foreign students in Ateneo finding difficulty in feeling part of the student body, saying that school courses and activities are “Filipino activities” that they cannot relate to. “I just want to say that there are foreigners in Ateneo, too,” said Lee.
Because of that, he felt that some of his fellow foreign students are isolating themselves.
Benjie Martinez, chair of the Constitutional Commission, said that isolation is a matter of personal decision, and asked Lee to take out his student’s identification card and scrutinize the details. Lee read out the school’s name and his identification number, to which Martinez replied, “Is that not enough proof that you are an Atenean?”
Alex Callao, deputy chair of the Constitutional Commission, intervened, saying Lee’s point was that the foreigners had difficulty in feeling part of the Ateneo student body, and not as an officially enrolled Atenean.
The latter part of the reading was spent analyzing CCO’s wish for autonomy, with the commissioners debating on the better decision.
CCO is an organization of registered campus clubs. Currently, they are under the SAMAHAN student council. With autonomy, CCO will no longer have a representation in the student government. Callao said that there were only two things for CCO to choose from: autonomy or representation. In the end, Callao voted no for the motion, saying, “This is a heavy decision. I think we should weigh the pros and cons first before coming with a decision.”
Cavin Cabarlo, CCO representative, said that it was difficult to have to choose one between autonomy and representation, saying they are contributing a great part in SAMAHAN. He said they wanted their own structure. “We are very dependent on SAMAHAN,” said Cabarlo.
Cabarlo stood firm in CCO’s decision to choose autonomy. “Autonomy weighs more than representation,” he stated.
Martinez responded by asking, “If you want autonomy, why should we include you in the constitution?”
The ruling of the court was to scrap sections 4-11 of article 5 in the SAMAHAN constitution that concerns CCO and its autonomy if the request would be approved.
Nearing the end of the reading, Martinez called for an impromptu press conference where they also addressed matters other than the student government foreign representation and CCO autonomy.
In the press conference, a student raised a question regarding the said marginalized sector in Ateneo, and how it would concern foreign students. Martinez responded, saying that everyone is equal in Ateneo, and that they are not in the position to give the word’s definition.
The third and final reading of the new constitution will be on Friday, September 19, in the same venue.