Friday, September 7, 2012

A culture of extraction

I pitied the status of student organizations nowadays. I do not know if they realize their importance. I do not know if they realize their responsibilities to their members. Current online debates point towards officers demanding obligations from their members but setting aside their responsibilities to them. My impression is that student organizations nowadays have become a victim of a culture of extraction.

Leading is not about forcing others to follow you but it is about you being a natural magnet for others to follow. Is there freedom when you force others to be free? I still maintain my position that membership in student organizations should be free (see previous article). But the current status of student organizations led me to another perspective on looking at them. What I see are organization who are extractive. I see organizations who look at members as cash cows. It is not just milking the cow but peeling the leather out of them.  

During the enrolment time this school year, the administration was criticized initially because of their decision to demand full miscellaneous fees. But others failed to see is that organizations have their own enrolment demands. In some colleges, one cannot proceed enrolment unless they paid up their "obligations" to these organizations. We ask them to pay outright but delay provision of their needs. And when members demand services, officers would reply, "Kayo na lang ang mag-officer. Akala niyo madali ang maging officer?" It is where there is deadlock. Officers do not clearly see their responsibilities. That they have the responsibility to be creative in the financial management. That funds does not always come from members. And only the best leaders can see this. I dream of organizations which conduct activities without contribution from members. Your schoolmates are not richie rich kids and every centavo is important.

Sometimes student organization are being used by some faculty to perform tasks in the name of student development when they cannot provide these services. When we cannot provide an equipment, we let them contribute for themselves. We say that they have provided a little so they need to provide more by themselves. Since we cannot just impose higher tuition and matriculation fees because of the restrictions imposed by the government, we insinuate our student leaders to perform by forcing their members to contribute. The burden was pass on to student organizations. I remember one time that a faculty member would organize a seminar about his subject and invite external speakers. Using an organization, students would contribute for this seminar. What I do not understand is that the seminar was about his subject which he could lectured on in the class in the first place. If he do not have the capacity to deliver the lecture, then at least he should have financed the seminar. Afterall, the students have paid the tuition fee for that particular subject. This is where a student organization become an accomplice of a faculty's waterloo.

This is where state universities fail. We lament the inadequacies of the government and so we turn our attention to our students. But to what extent? There should be a limit or else we find ourselves delivering mediocre service to students who are paying more fees than when they should have been in a private school. Giving more than the expense of an individual student is the essence of a state university.

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