By Louis Gerard C. Rotea
I have written this letter so that it may be expressed in public and for the record, the dismay of myself, a number of my fellow students, and even some of the faculty and staff, with whom I have spoken, over the recent implementation of the Administration’s Christmas memo.
This recent memo, which is supposed to only encourage toned down celebrations, has been used to severely limit the amount of expenditure for Christmas parties and victory celebrations since many of our countrymen are still suffering after the wake of Yolanda. Organizations have been told by the Business and Finance that there is a ceiling for this year’s celebrations and that certain amounts will not be approved.
Because of this, some organizations have cancelled their celebrations, since the amount allowed cannot provide for their many members.
Now, I do not disagree with the spirit with which the administration made this decision, only with the manner with which it was implemented. Simply put, that is our money. The money of the student councils and student organizations is not the Business and Finance’s, it is the students’.
Are the tuitions we pay not enough? Why must money of student organizations and councils now be controlled and decided for by those who are only supposed to hold it?
I have long detested the requirement that the money of organizations and councils be placed in the Business and Finance. Dealing with the conundrum that is Silliman University’s bureaucracy is in itself a 3-unit subject – taking up the same amount of time, sweat, and tears. Though I will admit, it is not a totally baseless and useless requirement. I do see its merits; it is the main hindrance to corrupt student officers from pocketing their constituents’ money, among others. However, the recent limitations imposed in releasing money which are meant for legal and appropriate Christmas celebrations is well beyond their job descriptions as caretakers of our money.
Despite its best intentions, it is laughable how this university, which prides itself in being the first American-established university in Asia, espousing the ideals of freedom, liberty, and democracy, could do something so dictatorial and overbearing. And why, again, has this recent decision been made? Supposedly, it is to show our humility and more importantly our solidarity with the victims of Yolanda. It is as if we students have, thus far, been totally apathetic to the plight of the affected Boholanos, Cebuanos, Leyteños and Samareños; as if all of us have, up to this point, been shirking off our responsibilities as citizens, nay, our duties as human beings!
Which we all know is untrue.
Now, I am not saying we have done enough. On the contrary, I do not believe that there is such a thing as enough help when such tragedies occur. However, these actions seem to me to be nothing more than a sham, and likewise, its fruits, if any, will also be but a sham.
I am not a very religious person, nor will I ever claim to be, but I do remember something Jesus said in the early chapters of the Gospel of Matthew regarding hypocrisies, which I am sure, or at least hope, the leaders of Silliman University are familiar with. With this in mind, and with our parties “humbled,” I would like to ask: are we not becoming hypocrites with our mandated humility? Is not requiring the limitations of our celebrations just a show of forced sincerity? No doubt, the Silliman University community will receive praises from outsiders for its humbleness and its refusal to conduct Christmas parties while there is still suffering in the affected areas.
We, on the inside, however, would know the truth, in that it wasn’t a product of our hearts, but rather, from a signed piece of paper not giving us much of a choice.
Louis Gerard C. Rotea,
P.S. It will probably already be too late when this is published, if it gets published at all. However, somebody had to say it.