Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Same old?

the Weekly Sillimanian | August 25, 2023

A new school year does not always mean a fresh start. 

In an institution like Silliman University, which is built upon decades of tradition, it becomes easy to slip into the same old routines. Building upon programs, policies, and practices that have been used for years is a strategy oft adopted, and not without good reason. This is evident in our school policies, the way our student government works, and even in how the Weekly Sillimanian has reported on the same topics in the same ways.

Left unchecked, however, following tradition without question breeds complacency, reliance, and—ultimately—neglect. Problems are misrecognized as practice, programs and policies are implemented in an unfit context, and actions are justified by a “this is the way we have always done it” rather than a sound argument. 

The start of this year’s enrollment began with no sections being available, just as it always has every enrollment season. The delayed implementation of the miscellaneous fee increase was met with little fanfare despite vehement opposition to it at the onset, just as it always has when controversial issues gain traction then later die down. The student body has expressed little to no dissatisfaction with the way such things are being done, just as it always has—because such apathy is what they have become used to. 

In a school culture that relies on routines and traditions rather than confrontational dialogue to find the best courses of action, this apathy only makes it easier for complacency to fester.

The Weekly Sillimanian sees this reliance on traditions as alarming—especially since we, too, have often fallen victim to the habit of blindly following in the footsteps of our predecessors. This school year, we commit to covering more student-centered issues in student-centered ways and changing the way people think about norms we have long accepted unquestioningly. We will not be afraid to rock the boat even if that means pushing everything we have known and built up to this point overboard. We will disturb people wherever and whenever they are most comfortable even if that leaves them unsettled and anxious for the future.

Disrupting a system does not come easy. It brings unprecedented challenges and breaks down the safety nets that have brought us comfort for years. But that does not mean disruptions should be avoided. When the systems we have had faith in show signs of malfunction, we should not turn a blind eye. 

The beginning of a new school year is an opportunity for everyone—the administration, the student government, and us as the student publication—to break cycles we have long held ourselves prisoner to. 

To truly start anew this school year, we have to recognize the practices that are beyond fixing—and then break them down, piece by piece.

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