Student Leaders’ Weighted Average: FAILED

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The University of Makati (UMak) is known to be the university of events as others say. The back-to-back mistakes in event execution and social media behavior are evident among the student body.

The University Student Council goes all out organizing events for Herons by inviting artists from UMG Philippines to a recent Music Festival.
(PHOTO | Alclarisse Dulcero & Kevin Trampe)

As we reflect on the role of student leaders in UMak, it becomes evident that they are not merely event organizers or the grievance desk of the students. Their passion for serving the students is as clear as it should be. With the issues surrounding student leaders having surfaced, it raises the question of whether these student leaders indeed show respect in upholding their status and roles.

“Student leadership develops student leaders and other students as well,” stated Mr. Rodjan Fat, the University Student Council (USC) president in an interview. It is important to acknowledge the part that student leaders play in shaping the educational environment and building a sense of community within the academe. Not only do these emerging leaders represent the student body’s concerns, ideas, and views, but they must also show and promote excellence and set an example for many students. Their status in the university usually dictates the way they act and react. With high status comes great authority, and these leaders hold power and influence among their constituents, thus most need to instill a sense of social responsibility and self-awareness. 

Firstly, their personal views always reflect the views of their organization or the council. Moral and righteous behavior helps leaders to be credible and trustworthy, contributing to the overall positive impact they have on the students and the university. Like from the perspective of a student leader who says, “Yung sinasabi ko talaga sa committees ko is ayusin ‘yung kilos nila whether it may be inside or outside the organization. Kasi kung ano ‘yung ugali mo, ‘yun din ‘yung ugali ng org mo. It’s not only your reputation that is at stake but also the reputation of the organization you are a part of.” 

Leadership is an oath. Despite reasons like “May sariling buhay din ang student leaders,” one should not disregard the notion of respect for their solemn duties and status within the university. Their actions and values can shape the minds of the students; thus, a commitment to moral principles helps establish a student community of respect, fairness, and inclusivity. At present, where student leaders often tend to be overly free in expressing themselves, upholding balance between their personal and organizational lives is a challenge they must get the better of.

Student leaders carry the burden of their role as exemplary figures and beacons of inspiration. They should set a high standard for their peers to follow. Thus, requirements and qualifications are strictly followed to ensure the eligibility of the students who will govern the university student body. Because when will a student with an 85 GWA be trusted to guide the student body? If a student leader lacks vision, critical thinking, and integrity, will the students still obey them? “Sila ‘yung dapat naming sinusundan and nilolook-up to. Dahil sila ang mas mataas samin, sila dapat ang mag-guide.”

An insight from a regular UMak student upon hearing the question, “What do you think student leaders in UMak should show?” In pursuing academic excellence, student leaders should inspire students to prioritize their academics and deem education with a similar passion. 

Moreover, student leaders, like any other individuals, are not exempt from mistakes. Their status and prestige within the university do not relieve them from the possibility of misjudgments, lapses, and work errors. An example would be the issue surrounding one of the highest councils in UMak, the Campus Coordinating Council (CCC), and their use of artificial intelligence (AI) in one of their publication materials. The post became a trending controversy among the university students. Some of them expressed their dismay, especially the student artists who felt invalidated by the use of AI graphics. Upon listening to the public dismay of the student body, the CCC later released a statement of apology addressing their mistake.

As per the CCC Chairperson, Reiner Nuevas stated Hindi kami mags-sorry kasi ginamit (namin) ‘yung AI. We apologize for the misuse of AI. Kasi we are using AI everywhere. It is a part of innovation.”

Artificial intelligence is slowly stepping foot in academia as an AI-generated publication material from CCC captures the attention of concerned Herons.
(PHOTO | Screenshot/Jermay Kyle Tiu)

Another is the USC’s suspended Constitutional Plebiscite because of questionable proposed constitutions and other legal concerns. The supposed purpose of the Plebiscite is somehow disregarded as USC already adopted the changes before even consulting the student body. The council promised to reschedule the convention next month before the event, yet until now the Plebiscite has been moved for who knows when? Also, why are USC’s planned events already conducted before the rescheduled Plebiscite? Yet it is said that signing the Constitution and ByLaws should be done before executing the events. “Plebiscite became something new to the studentry. There are stipulations na minadali namin. Well in fact, yes actually, 50% of that.” Mr. Fat explained, “Kapag mag-iinterpret tayo ng batas, it should not be close-ended. Humihingi po ng student representative sa constitutional assembly, ako po bilang student regent, ay macoconsider na student representative. As well as all those student chairpersons na elected are also considered na representatives by their college.”

The suspended Constitutional Plebiscite questions the legitimacy and competence of the University Student Council.
(PHOTO | Mark Joseph Bautista)

On the other hand, it is true that student leaders also face challenges within their personal lives and relationships. As a result, their roles in the university place their personal lives under the spotlight. Motivating student leaders to separate personal lives from leadership responsibilities is crucial to upholding professionalism. The CCC Chairperson emphasized, “Minsan hindi na-seseparate ‘yung friendship sa student leadership at dito nag-sisimula ‘yung problems in organizations. Kaya, we should know our boundaries.” Student leaders can act the way they want and acknowledge their personal preferences and experiences without letting them unduly influence their roles within their organization or council. Manifesting clear boundaries between personal and professional spheres enables the student body to regard student leaders with trust. Maintaining transparency is the foundation of effective leadership.

Furthermore, these student leaders value improvement and growth within themselves. The word ‘satisfactory’ is not even an understatement of what is seen in councils and organizations right now. Therefore, equipping these student leaders with the necessary skills for effective leadership should not be overlooked. They should not pass on listening to leadership training and seminars and should take notes during mentorships and workshops. Student leaders should also possess self-awareness among themselves. Seeking feedback and comments from the students and organization or council members is a ladder for continuous improvement in behavior and attitude. Constructive criticisms, comments, and suggestions must be taken with utmost responsibility and commitment to enhancement.

The HSU-SSG’s Student Leadership Summit equips student-leaders through a series of seminars, activities and team-building exercises.
(PHOTO | Jayson Huub Partido & John Jr. Benjamin)

By embodying ethical leadership, academic excellence, accountability, and resilience, student leaders stand as inspiration for their peers to aspire to greatness. As the voice of the students, student leaders should understand their roles and responsibilities within the university, and recognize that any unacceptable behavior and attitude reflects their standing. Undoubtedly, the balancing act game of student leaders might be a burden too heavy to carry. However, there is no such thing as defiance for a student leader with pure passion to serve. After all, it is a right for students to receive exceptional leadership as they deserve. 


Written by Jermay Kyle Tiu