“Open” Forum

“They didn’t think this through.”

These were the words of many students during the forum exactly a week ago today, February 10.

“Kulang ‘to sa planning.”

The Student Council of the Faculty of Arts and Letters and its administration, which includes the council adviser, the faculty secretary, and the assistant dean, held an “open” forum in rooms 112 to 116, also known as the lecture hall, regarding the infamous 50K scandal among other matters. The rooms were jam-packed for the face-to-face dialogue entitled “Speak Up.” Many of the students, including me, weren’t able to grab a seat, eternally standing in the middle aisle that separated the two sides of the room. There were absolutely no seats left to accommodate everyone who attended. The forum had not even started yet, and there were already additional problems, another set of issues waiting to be resolved again.

The organizers were coming in and out of the room, occasionally reminding us that we have to stay away from the middle aisle. So, because of the lack of space via the excess in numbers, I had no choice other than to leave the lecture hall, but not before I asked some students regarding what they thought about the concerns that were about to be tackled in the forum, and the forum itself.

“Sa palagay ko,” a journalism freshman began, “hindi nila inexpect na ganito karami ang dadalo dahil ‘di nila akalaing ganito karami ang may pake.”

As a matter of fact, I could go on for a couple more pages about how disorganized the forum was, and how unprepared the coordinators were, but that would be too unprofessional of me. So I interviewed some of the students who were actually already seated, asking their concerns, and what they were there for. Many, specifically the journalism sophomores, were there to be able to make their paper (this one) for their major subject, while others, who were also sophomore journalism students, were exclusively there to have their questions and inquiries answered. One of them was a blockmate of mine, Edrick James Dimabuyu. When I asked him about why he wanted to attend the forum, he gave one definite and creative answer.

“Akala ko talaga nung una sa gobyerno lang natin may mga ganyan. Siguro sa ganito rin sila nagsimumla ‘no? Biro lang. Pero hindi biro ‘yong mga basta-basta na lang na nawawala ‘yong funds natin. Biruin mo, pinaghihirapan ng mga magulang natin ‘yan para makapag-aral tayo sa ganitong standard ng education, tapos kasama na rin doon ‘yong para sa mga activities natin univ-wide at college-wide, tapos ganyan? It’s not that we actually want to know, it’s more of we NEED to know.”

Unfortunately, the supposedly “open” forum wasn’t that open at all. When the people concerned were asked, they said they weren’t allowed to disclose anything regarding the investigation on the 50K situation, just know that they are doing their best to solve it and penalize whoever is at fault.

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