Like my fellow students who were at the Ugnayang La Salle (ULS) on Wednesday, May 2, for TALAKAY: The 2018 University Debate, I was also disappointed that the questions for the University Student Council candidates were limited to three only during the Open Forum, when in fact there were more than three students who lined up to ask questions to the candidates. I was the fourth one in the line and we were dismayed when the guard approached us and told us that we should just take our seats since there are time constraints—the venue being available only until 5:00pm.
There were supposed to be at least three questions to be entertained only, however, I could not help but to approach the mic and speak out the question that I have been wanting to ask the candidates. During the time that I was there, still standing in front of the microphone hoping that they’ll hear me out, some of my fellow students approached me to relay their thoughts on the matter—suggesting to continue the debate even outside of the ULS, and that the students were already keen on wanting to engage in the debate. Unfortunately, the final decision was still to end the program immediately.
It is a good thing that activities like TALAKAY are being organized to serve as an avenue where students would be given the chance to assess whether the candidates are worthy of their votes or not. And given that the candidates were not able to campaign in every class and were not able to address all the raised questions, the debate may not have been the “only” chance, but it was somehow the best chance where the students and the candidates could engage in a discourse on matters concerning not just our university but including issues in our society as well. However, what we’ve heard apart from the questions and answers were more of a series of “I’m sorry, but we’ll have to cut you off.”
During the morning session, apart from the reason that the candidates were still incomplete, only a small number of students attended the debate that the program proper had to start late. Afternoon came and there were more attendees, the willingness of the students to participate in the debate also grew more ardent, especially when it was time for the USC candidates to respond to the limited questions that were addressed to them.
We were already at the peak, it was there—we, students were already participating, we were already challenging our next leaders, as well as ourselves, but then again, there were time constraints—it was as if we were withheld.
Student passiveness has long been an issue in our University, and one reason could be that there are no bodies who the students could count their stand on. With what happened during the debate and afterward, during the deliberation on whether to continue the debate or not, we can already observe if the candidates who were present would and could be able to advance the voice of the students so that we could be heard. In last Wednesday’s case, the voice of the students were claiming for an extension of the program.
Then again, it should not just end as the debate or even the election ends—we should be vigilant when it comes to questions concerning our rights as students, we should take part in what’s happening within and outside our university, and lastly, we should take a stand.
This election season, with what the candidates have shown us for the past weeks, how would you take a stand?