I've been in the University for six years now. It wasn't until four years ago that I finally joined an organization when I entered college. Like everyone, I'm amazed by the dynamics of its campus culture, that many of its alumni would pride the University to have it best. In here, there are many events–here and there, students participating in competitions, groups of people convening with the same advocacy, and so much more.
When I asked my alumni peers of their memories in college, they spoke most of it in tenderness; doused with nostalgia and stories of embarrassment.
"How is your organization?," is a question I get asked a lot as someone who is most associated with TomasinoWeb, the premier digital media organization of the University.
"It's going well," is my general response. I narrate what I've been working on and my plans in the coming months. They express their excitement for my endeavors with smiles rising up to their cheeks. I, too, would be fueled with excitement until my memory tugs me of something, then follows an exasperated sigh. I tell my colleagues the news. Their smile fades.
"Is it because of the same thing again?"
I nod. Sometimes it comes with a different explanation–a reiteration of the same problem, just with a different setting. Somehow, there is a great comfort of being understood but it's never gratifying in this way. I know people would know this to be true because like all student leaders in the University, I know I am not alone in this one.
Last March 1, Dale Marollano resigned from his post as auditor in the UST Central Student Council. Like many tough resignations I've witnessed in the past, there is often one thing they have in common: exhaustion. Many of the letters I've read from individuals of various backgrounds often denotes their inability to fulfill their duties to the people they serve.
Marollano, in his resignation letter, stated that he and his fellow student leaders have worked "diligently" to create "positive changes" in the Thomasian community. His vision was to create a policy-driven student council that "promotes" students' rights and welfare.
Many of the student leaders I know execute an iteration of a vision–one that best suits the community they serve, depending on their affiliation in the University. I, as a student leader, serve the people by running a digital media organization that dedicates itself in telling stories that connect the community as one.
Over the past four years, it has been an amazing experience–but it's not entirely a story told with tenderness either. Obviously, there are ups and downs in leadership. It is inevitable to bump into some hurdles along the way. But what kind of hurdle do you call it if it remains bumpy in the journey we take down the road? A systemic problem.
Marollano's resignation reminds the Thomasian community of the very thing that its system needs: change. In his letter, he cited that the competence and efforts of his fellow student leaders will never be enough until its interests align with the University administrators. This is something I've been most observant about in the past few years.
As a student leader, I've gotten into a handful of calls with a certain office–even forwarding letters and appeals to them. Most of these correspondences often more or less involve us trying to explain ourselves with efforts on their end to suppress our duties as a university-wide student organization.
In a call last August, I asked this office if a policy change would be beneficial to the student body, considering there has been this one problem for organizations and student councils that occurs every Freshman Week. We were met with silence. Instead, we were banned from conducting a coverage for the next major event in the University.
In the same instance, the persistent failure in the University's paperwork system toward filing events continues to linger. For an institution that commands its student organization and councils to organize events, it is still surprising how we still operate under these circumstances — one which many of its stakeholders communicate these concerns about.
These stories could go on and on. Even with their numerous attempts to push for changes, it will never be enough if it persistently suffers under a restrictive outdated system that is too comfortable with ignoring the needs and demands of its largest stakeholders: the student body.
If we want to experience growth and development from the University, we, all together, have to get into the nitty-gritty of the rust and the grimes of our system–the ones that repeatedly haunts generations of Thomasians.
Marollano's resignation is a wake up call; it is a testament to how student leaders in the Thomasian community are exhausted from this systemic problem. That they are not merely just event organizers in an institution that prides itself from raising competent individuals.
It is also worth noting that this resignation is also indicative of how the student body is equipped with courage and readiness to sit on the table to discuss matters with University administrators.
Though here is the question: with yet another big stride coming from the student body, are we ready as a community to hear them out or are we going to let the ghosts of our system haunt us for years or decades to come?