By Raissa Vincena B. Juada
Imagine a university without a student legislature – a university where the policies are solely made by an administration that has little to no knowledge of the interests of the students. What kind of policies do you think this university would have? Of course, such policies would be unfitting (or even contradictory) to that of the interests of the students simply because the administration is scarcely familiar of the will of those whom they’re making the policies for.
Like the Philippine government, universities should have a legislative branch – be it in the form of a Congress or a Parliament – composed of a select body of representatives who are knowledgeable of the interests of the many and who are capable of representing the will of their constituents through making policies. These representatives should also be the students, as they are the only ones who have the capacity to formulate effective and student-centered policies because since they are the students, they would know what kind of policies they need or would benefit them the most.
This is not to disparage university administrations; nor to vilify them in any way; but to simply say that when it comes to formulating university policies, the students’ participation is necessary because they have a more profound grasp of their own interests as compared to those who are in the administration.
A year ago, such legislative branch was created in Far Eastern University – the FEU Congress. The FEU Congress is the highest legislative body in the university by which student councils from both the campuses of FEU Manila and FEU Makati can exercise their policy-making mandate. It periodically holds parliamentary sessions, of which are attended by student representatives from the different student councils and university-wide organizations from the abovementioned campuses, to craft university-wide resolutions.
This is the gist (and the elementary explanation) of how the policy-making process works: first, the representatives will be proposing a resolution; second, such resolution will be deliberated and voted upon by all the members of the FEU Congress; and third, after the resolution passes in the Congress, it will proceed on (and be either rejected or approved by) the university administration – the main implementor of the resolutions. In a way, this process is analogous to that of the law-making process of the Philippines: the FEU Congress, like the state legislature, makes the laws, while the administration, like the executive branch of the state, implements them.
It is evident in the policy-making process that the FEU Congress will truly serve as a bridge between the students and the administration. This makes its existence vital not only because it can serve as a “bridge,” but also because it is the only body that has the capacity to fully represent the will of the students at large through making policies simply because the members of the FEU Congress, unlike those who are in the university administration, are, again, the students themselves.
One may disagree and say that establishing the FEU Congress is a futile act of the FEU Central Student Organization because there are already student councils existing in the university that would suffice and can do what the FEU Congress is mandated to do. But one must also understand that policies, especially those which are university-wide, are better formulated by student councils collectively and through a more systematized and institutionalized machinery, not separately and through their respective institute legislative bodies. Thus, I must say, that if the students desire to gain better policies – that is, policies which reflect the interests and the will of the majority – it could not be done in a more effectual way than establishing the FEU Congress.