Manifesto of unity calling for the junking of the proposed 2009 Code of Student Conduct and for the forwarding of an alternative, democratic Code
Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersyalisasyon ng Edukasyon (UMAKSYON)
We, students of the University of the Philippines, firmly denounce the questionable procedures through which the draft of 2009 Code of Student Conduct (CSC) was formulated, as well as oppose its anti-student and repressive character. We firmly believe that the proposed Code runs counter to the student demands that we have long forwarded to the Board of Regents since the start of the academic year, and as such deserves the greatest condemnation from the ranks of students and organizations aspiring to uphold their democratic rights in the University.
The provisions of the Code did not undergo student consultation. At the onset, the drafting of the Code has already violated the basic right of students to be consulted and represented in the formulation of policies that affect their rights and welfare. The procedure by which it was drafted undermines the capacity of the students to recommend solutions to long-standing student issues in the University. Moreover, it is unjust that the Code was consulted to College administrators, while the assertion of the University Student Council to participate in the drafting of the Code was deliberately refused.
The provisions in the Code runs counter to the ideals of academic freedom in the University. The basis of discipline and its corresponding sanctions imposed by the Code also imperil the academic freedom inside the University. It dictates on the organizations the kind of activities it must pursue for it to be able to qualify for recognition and application of tambayans. It also prohibits students from using UP’s Information Technology System for political, personal, and commercial reasons, including crossposting in email groups. “Breach of peace”, “disrespect towards persons of authority” and “threatening behavior” are vague statements that may render academic and extra-curricular activities as punishable by the Code. Moreover, the transformation of the Student Disciplinary Tribunal into a Council eliminates student representation in disciplinary proceedings, as it effectively removes the existence of Student Jurors. At the same time, the proposed process of hearing cases of violations also runs counter to the principle of fair and due process. In fact, the Code approximates the Human Security Act in its totalitarian tone. It unilaterally imposes the kind of thinking, behavior, and endeavors that students must conform to.
The Code violates our basic human rights of freedom to organize, express, and assemble. We decry the gross violation of our basic rights, as our constitutional right to organize and right to free speech stands to be crushed by the stipulations of the Code. Aside from the provisions stated above, it also sets high criteria for the recognition of organizations, requiring an approximate of 100 members to qualify for University recognition. It also prohibits freshmen and transferees from joining organizations, otherwise, the individual and the organization shall be punished by the Code. Instead of providing an academic community that upholds our basic rights and instituting safeguards for the realization of the students’ holistic and full potential, the Code limits our democratic space, effectively restricting students from joining organizations and expressing our opinions.
The Code silences collective dissents, paving the way for further commercialization and repression in the University. We analyze the proposed policy as a clear adjunct to the programmed commercialization of the university, which we have consistently opposed for the longest time. The free organization, assembly, and expression of students are the biggest obstructions in forwarding anti-student policies in the University, such as fee increases and privatization of student services. The passage of the Code will cripple organizations, sororities and fraternities, hindering students from registering dissent against anti-student and pro-commercialization thrusts of the university via organized and collective fronts. History tells us that student formations and institutions had been instruments of expressing and asserting our democratic aspirations. During the Martial Rule, when organizations, student councils, and publications were banned, our ability to unite, organize, express, and create collective fronts despite repressive conditions contributed greatly to the reinstitution of our democratic rights and to the eventual end of Marcos dictatorship. We shall not let any moves that aim to weaken the collective strength and potency that we have.
With the position articulated above, we decisively call for the immediate junking of the proposed Code for Student Conduct, as it clearly stands as an affront to our basic rights and interests. We demand for an alternative student code that shall encourage, rather than restrict, the flourishing of basic rights and civil liberties of Iskolars ng Bayan — a code that shall put our general and specific student demands in legislation. For a university can never flourish if its primary stakeholder, the students and organizations, is shackled to the dogma of coercion and discipline.