Friday, June 14, 2024

You are not the leader the students need

By Kaye Brier | May 9, 2024

The election of the next batch of students that will hold the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) office is now underway, and the noise of campus politics is starting to roar. We are confronted with the solo race of one political party, the seemingly heightened student detachment in policy-making, and the slow death of campus leadership.

While these issues are concerning, the students should never forget that there are much more alarming issues that should be part of the discourse.

For a very long time, the students, one of the largest stakeholders in this university, have been deprived of equal representation on the Board of Trustees. The students’ plight remains docketed on the tables of the university administration. Students remain unheard, and the student body remains excluded from the policymaking of the institution.

The next SUSG leaders should recognize that the true leadership students need is not that which is only confined within the comfortable walls of the university. We need leaders who will not only show up in university politics, but are also courageous enough to stand up for the issues of the larger society. We need leaders whose bravery is not limited to statement writing.

The students’ lives do not change as they pass through the gates of the university. The crises of each student are not disposable cups that can be thrown into our university bins; the societal ills they carry will remain to cloak them. We need leaders who can see these lived experiences with empathy and realize that their leadership is not limited to campus issues only.

We always forget students are also members of different sectors of society. This means that the challenges they carry are not limited to their academic lives because they are also victims of a complex layer of inequalities where their sectoral communities are pushed to the margins.

They too are the farmers who are battling for genuine agrarian reform, fisherfolk who are under threat of displacement, members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are still facing different forms of gender-based discrimination, the youth who are targets of red-tagging and neoliberal policies in education, and women who are forced to limit themselves because of the macho-feudal culture that we have.

With our socio-political climate, we need student leaders who are ready to demand the state to prioritize our long-delayed equal access to social services. We need leaders eager enough to take to the streets and ceaselessly join the broadest masses in amplifying their call for genuine reforms.

No leader has ever been more ready than those willing to learn and be with the people.

If your “para sa bayan” does not start with “kasama ang bayan,” then you are not the leader the students need.

KAYE BRIER (she, her) is a freshman Silliman Law student, beauty queen, activist, and the first-ever transgender woman journalist in Southern Philippines. | 5/1/24

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