The passing of a new Samahan Constitution has been one of the controversial topics in the Ateneo community today. Currently, the proposed Constitution is in the process of student plebiscite, where votes, either in support or disapproval of the new Constitution, are being gathered. Due to last year’s failed attempt at gathering enough votes from the student population, the SAMAHAN has elected to amplify student participation by collecting votes door-to-door through the COMELEC. But is a new Constitution what Ateneans really want?
In with the new
“We are functioning not just as representatives executively but we are also functioning legislatively. We are passing bills. Meron pa kaming mga SEC (Student Executive Council),” Alexis Alberto, Accountancy Division representative said.
He explained that there is a need to delegate responsibilities for a more productive Samahan. According to him, the new constitution will give the community a more formal structure.
“We should say yes because it caters to a lot of student concerns. It will cater more, in fact, because of the separation of duties between the powers of a Samahan officer, mapa-judicial pa man yan, legis(lative), and executive.”
He did not deny the lapses that would be faced by the new constitution as there is no such thing as a perfect constitution. However, he said that the New Constitution must be given a chance.
“Wala pa man gud nato na–experience. So why not give it a chance? Let’s give chance a chance.”
SS Division Representative Jessa Suico also believed that the new constitution has a workable structure because it checks and balances each branch. Nonetheless, in her perspective, it is a challenge for the SAMAHAN.
“We have to prove to the whole Ateneo Community that we can work on the structure and that we can show to them that there will be really check and balance in terms of the structure we are proposing on the Constitution,” she added.
“It’s too bureaucratic; too many processes,” said Piglasapat President Patrick John Comoda in an interview.
He said that the time allotted to conduct actual activities will be lessened because of the procedures it has to go through.
“One year lang naman magse-serve. And in that one year, is it really practical to have three branches? To have all those processes? I guess, hindi naman, hindi talaga,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the budget for SAMAHAN is barely enough for its operations. Division Representatives sometimes complain about their budget allocation.
“Maliit na nga ang funding ngayon, ispre-spread out mo pa ‘yan siya to other branches.”
He also mentioned the probable effects in the budget if the constitution is approved.
“So ang option mo lang is either to lessen the budget na mare-receive ng mga divisions, or mabawasan ang provisional funds, or mag-increase ng SAMAHAN fee,” he stated.
Not enough information
A 3rd year Finance student who requested for her anonimity said that she has minimal knowledge about the constitution.
“As of my stand, I’d rather not vote. Because, of course, what is the point of voting if you really do not understand the constitution well?” she said.
She added, “Hindi masyadong maganda ang information dissemination [ng Samahan].”
The voting was scheduled from November 22 to 29. Now that the deadline has already passed, one can only hope that students read about the new constitution and decide whether or not the proposed changes would benefit the Ateneo community, instead of voting just for the sake of participation. The votes that students place may have the power to drastically change the lives of students within the University for years to come. In the end, it will still be the majority vote – what Ateneans really want – that will prevail.