Lyceum-Manila admin plans to take over student pub
◢ Camille Lita
The administration of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Manila has been planning to take over its student publication, citing proposals that will “benefit the publication in the future.” But will it still be a student-run paper after all?
Student Affairs Office (SAO) Dean Jayson Barlan has been very vocal in reorganizing the LPU’s 32-year-old official student publication The Independent Sentinel (The Sentinel). He plans to start this by amending the publication’s existing constitution, said Jessica Jane Sy, acting editor-in-chief of the publication, adding that the demand of the administration to reform The Sentinel is a step to manipulate the student publication to become the administration’s mouthpiece.
“Hindi ganoon kadali ma-attain ‘yun since maraming issues [na pwedeng i-discuss sa loob ng LPU] like issues about hazing [at] sexual harassment na siyempre hindi puwedeng itago ng student publication,” she added.
Following the proposed reforms, new and existing members of The Sentinel will now be required to take the qualifying exam which will determine if they are still eligible for the publication, a policy that contradicts the existing constitution of the publication.
“Incumbent staffers who already took the editorial exam need not retake every school year but must undergo a panel interview,” Section 1B Article VII of The Sentinel Constitution states.
Meanwhile, campus media alliance College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) believes that the move of the LPU administration to reorganize The Sentinel is a prelude to subjugation and censorship of the publication.
“The failure of the school administration to hold [a] dialogue with The Sentinel is an outright mockery of democracy and campus press freedom,” according to the statement of the group.
The plans of the LPU administration to take over The Sentinel have repeatedly delayed the application of its aspiring members and caused postponement in the transition of the incoming editorial board as well as removal of the publication fee which is essential for the operations of the student publication, according to their statement released last September 14.
Pursuant to the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, the school administration has no power to withhold the release of publication funds. “In no instance shall [the] school administration concerned withhold the release of funds sourced from the savings of the appropriations of the respective school and other sources intended for student publication,” Section 5 of the law states.
As of now, The Sentinel still operates with 15 remaining members and releases online content for the students. However, Barlan told The Sentinel members that he will make the qualifying exam for this year. The LPU administration recently announced that it will hold the “student publication” qualifying exam with no mention of The Sentinel’s name.
“Hindi pa nga nila naaayos ‘yung issue about it pero ayan, nag-take na naman sila ng step na magpapalabo ng mga bagay-bagay,” said Sy.
Aside from the LPU, other school publications are also experiencing the same form of control from their administration. For instance, the official student publication of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), The Catalyst, was also taken over by the university.
PUP President Emmanuel de Guzman revived the Student Publication Office which will process the selection of more “qualified” writers for The Catalyst. De Guzman sees the need to reform The Catalyst, citing the “cliquish” nature of the institution which produced a decline in the number of issues the publication releases.
CEGP condemns the ongoing repression of campus press freedom. “With militancy and stark resolve, we shall defend genuine campus press freedom against those who maliciously desire to subjugate press freedom and manipulate the truth to advance their own selfish interests,” the group said in a statement. ◢
Short URL: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/?p=12234