July 19, 2017— on this memorable day, placards were raised, chants were shouted, and cries were heard. This event will be written in history as the day that the teachers stood up for what they believed was equitable; the administration stood their ground for the well-being of the university; and the students united for what they believe was right.
The public witnessed how the teachers pushed through with their strike and how the administration continuously defended itself against all allegations. The dispute of the two most important foundations of the university greatly affected the students and pupils. Harsh words pierced like arrows that hurt a lot of people. Amid all the disagreements, some people still had the audacity to contribute to the problems by spreading false information. It lasted three days and those three days were filled with despair and chaos.
The word “apathetic” has been haunting the student body for the past years. Let us admit it; students have slowly lost their interest in participating in some university activities that aim to hone their talents. However during the strike, students showed that they were not as apathetic as people thought they were. They were not ignorant and meek. They wanted to be heard.
The strike might have been an event that we wish never happened but still it left very significant notes in the students’ minds: students are not alone and it is okay to sympathize. Students have minds of their own and they are independent young people that cannot be controlled like mere puppets. Despite the constant race between the societies and colleges to be the ones on top, differences were set aside. Students did not represent their colleges, their colors, their mascots, but they came as student body of Silliman University. They showed everyone that students’ minds were alike despite being diverse.
The patience of the Silliman University Faculty Association (SUFA) members is highly commendable. The outsiders, people who know little to nothing of the facts about the strike, might think that the faculty is destroying the image of Silliman and that they are making a fool of themselves.
Society has negative connotations towards people who engage themselves in rallies. Radicals, hotheads, war freaks— these are just a few of the negative words that are associated to people who are oppressed, needed change, and workers to achieve their goals. Remember, majority of the teachers are doctors and masters of their own fields. For them to set these titles aside and for them not to care about the comments of the public is enough to tell us a strong message that they’ve had enough. They were not raising placards along the streets for attention only but on their shoulders were their prides and honors as pillars of this university. Our proud teachers showed us that it was okay to ask for help and it was okay to be vulnerable.
The one who came as villain out of this story was the administration. Just like fairytales, we describe the villain as someone who is not so likeable. And during that event, the people’s sympathies were towards the SUFA making the administration unlikable, hence they were villains. But wait a second. When some students joined hands with the faculty, were there also students who defended the admins? Some might have been “pro admins” but were scared to voice out because of what others might think. No matter how villainous the admins might have been portrayed, as smart and educated people, we must look into all angles and pick one. As Sillimanians, we must understand the entire book and not just a page. In court hearings, it is not always the defendant who is the culprit. By wanting to negotiate again, it goes to show that the administration is open to change for the benefit of everybody.
People probably thought that it was SUFA who won but looking into it, all parties equally won fair and square. The teachers were able to get what were supposedly theirs and the administration was able to retain having their brilliant teachers. The brilliance of the teachers won’t be recognized as well if it weren’t for the good management of the administration. Despite the darkness that clouded over the proud institution of Silliman, the greatness of this university and the people who went and left the halls of the campus will never be tarnished.