Institutionalize students’ rights and academic freedom | Inquirer Opinion

Institutionalize students’ rights and academic freedom

/ 05:01 AM February 11, 2021

Academic freedom goes hand in hand with all other student rights. The lack of a nationwide magna carta for students puts into question not only the guarantee of academic freedom, but also the extent of all other rights students should enjoy in all educational spaces.

It is not enough that magna cartas exist in individual institutions. Because there is no nationwide standard, many magna cartas are subject to the whims of university and college administrators. Despite education being a right by all people, some schools actively bar pregnant and LGBTQIA+ students in their admissions.

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Worst of all, some campuses do not have a magna carta at all. Such is the case with Bulacan State University and the University of the Philippines Diliman, where such proposals continue to languish in limbo despite years of campaigning. Thus, administrators can arbitrarily assign delinquencies for the smallest perceived transgressions. The right to assembly and freedom of expression are enshrined in the Constitution, and yet a student from the University of Santo Tomas Senior High School was expelled for practicing those rights.

Universities trip over themselves to adhere to standards and achieve rankings, while paying no heed to the welfare and rights of students who made those achievements possible.

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Yet, there’s the catch. Neither academic freedom nor the guarantee of rights and representation will simply be handed over by school officials and government bureaucrats.

The accords are not enough. Local magna cartas are not enough. If we are to look forward to any hope of a more just and equitable society being built in the future, the institutionalization of rights such as proper access, representation, free expression, assembly, as well as the democratic spaces needed to foster critical thinking independent from private and state interests, must be fought for and granted to all students.

We are not cattle with no say, no dignity, no rights other than paying tuition, to be processed like a finished product. At any table where the state of academic institutions and their stakeholders’ future are decided, the student youth must be present to assert what is due them.

ANGELA SETH TALA
Member
amahan ng Progresibong Kabataan

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TAGS: academic freedom, Angela Seth Tala, Letters to the Editor, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan, SPARK, students' rights
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