The “Limits” of Freedom: Two Student Editors’ Views On The Campus Press Situation
Two ladies named Grellyn and Jesusa studied college in a chilly city named Baguio. According to them, they have lived a simple life, trying to balance their academic requirements with their responsibility – responsibility which can be hard for many. These two ladies are students, as well as campus journalist.
It is a tough job to be a campus journalist. Unlike high school days, tertiary student publications can be considered as a microcosm of the practice and the society – they reflect the real – life situations of the people in the community.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF THE PAPER
In July 1958, Saint Louis University published the White and Blue’s oldest issue which can be still accessed. It was a community newspaper back then – with news, researches, news, articles, poems and essays in English, Filipino, Ilocano and Spanish.
A shift from community to academic newspaper took place in 1959 wherein the paper primarily consisted of news and features from all the sectors of the Louisian community. Literary works served as a way for students to express themselves during this time.
In 1961, innovations such as photojournalism and cartoons served as an improvement presented by White and Blue.
A supplement in the newspaper’s existence came in the first semester of 1968. It was named Sapientia, which means wisdom. Sapientia served as a magazine – featuring students’ lives inside and outside the university.
In 1972, Martial Law impeded the publication of almost all the newspapers in the country – arrested journalists left and right and padlocked printing presses. This did not give exception to the White and Blue. During that time, only the Chronicle was said to be circulating around the campus.
The dark years passed and the restoration of the democracy happened. In 1993, the publication was alleged to be bias, leftists and radicals. The newspaper emphasized their primary duties to the Louisian community – to serve as mouthpieces of the Student Body and venue for exchange of ideas in the university.
However, self – interest and power struggle over the staff made the publication suffered more. With this, the administration decided to discontinue the publication without resolving the issue. For three years since then, SLU had no publication.
In December 1996, White and Blue picked up the pieces and initiated a screening for the staff.
After years of being mum, the Valentines’ day of 1997 marked the re-birth of White and Blue. The new staff members published an issue.
Years passed, White and Blue continued to improve their publication to cater the Louisian community. Supplements like Sapientia, Kwaderno (literary portfolio), Iglap (photography portfolio) and Guhit (comic strip portfolio) came into existence.
Up to this day, the publication still maintains their passion for truth, justice and campus freedom.
CREATING SHIELDS FOR FUTURE BATTLES
According to Batayang Oryentasyon ng UP Baguio Outcrop 2008, the word Outcrop was defined as “a coming out of bedrock to the surface of the ground; also; the part of a rock formation that thus appears.”
The publication started roughly around 1962 as a tri – weekly newsletter which showcases news articles and few student and organizational ads.
During the First Quarter Storm, the publication was recognized as an alternative newsletter. Martial Law came and the publication ceased its publication. Despite this, Outcrop managed to release an underground publication.
Later on, the student publication became a mosquito press which served as the mouth piece of the people – writing news and issues which cannot be found on the crony press.
After the dark ages brought by Martial Law, Outcrop came back to continue its tradition and watchdog function – breaking issues about the university and the government and mobilizing movements for students, teachers and employees of UP Baguio.
Outcrop’s alumni include Chancellor Priscilla Supnet – Macansantos and Professor Rey Rimando.
NOT THE USUAL PRIVATE SCHOOL LASS
Fourth year BS Information Technology student Grellyn Paoad defined campus press freedom as having the chance to do one’s functions as a journalist without being harassed or manipulated. She also seen its importance and firmly believes that their publication, White and Blue, has it.
Journalism is already a familiar craft for her. She was former Editor – in – Chief in elementary and former Managing Editor in high school. She also garnered awards from various conferences such as RSPC and NSPC. At present, her only affiliation is SLU’s White and Blue.
“Strenuous yet fulfilling task,” Paoad described her take as a campus journalist. “Mahirap kasi kailangan mo talaga ng time-management skills. At the same time, fulfilling kasi alam mo na may nagagawa ka na kapaki-pakinabang. At marami ka ring natututuhan at nakikilala na mga tao.”
When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said: “Passion ko ang pagsusulat. Atsaka gusto kong ituloy ang nasimulan ko noong elementary.”
CONQUERING HEIGHTS AT 19
Second year BA Social Sciences student Jesusa Paquibot said that campus press freedom is a critical aspect in one’s university life. Furthermore, she said “Dito [campus press freedom] nagsisimula ang ating tuwirang pagtatanggol ng ating karapatan sa pamamahayag bilang mag kabataan-estudyante.”
Like Paoad, Paquibot also had a taste of publication writing long before entering Outcrop. She became News Editor and Photojournalist during her high school days. In 2009, she also participated in Photojournalism category at RSPC. Currently, her only affiliation is the UPB Outcrop.
“Maaring mangahulugan ito ng isang buhay estudyante na may mga karagdagang gawain para sa hinahabol na “deadline” ng bawat nilalabas ng publikasyon.” Paquibot defined what really a campus journalist is.
When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said, “Upang mahasa sa pagsulat at magkaroon ng kaalaman sa mga pangyayari at isyung kinahaharap ng mga Pilipino.”
WHO INDEED IS FREE?
In terms of the publication process, Paoad claimed than in SLU, it “is case to case basis.” Talks were made between the two parties in order to arrive at an issue’s conclusion which will be published. The publication has an adviser which oversees the publication from time to time.
Answering the issue that private schools were repressed and did not have campus press freedom as much as state universities have, Paoad said: “…hindi naman kami sinisikil ng admin sa pag-release ng mga publication. Kung sakali, kinakausap lang nila kami kung may gusto sila i-clarify. Also, added factor na wala naman kami nareceive na scholarship or benefits sa pagsali namin sa organization kaya wala rin sila panghawak sa amin kung nagkataon.”
She said that there are no forms of repression, as far as she is concerned.
On the other hand, she said past editorial boards experienced harassment but not to the extent that a libel case was slapped against them.
Meanwhile, Paquibot said that there are no consultations happening between them and their adviser in every publication’s issue. The publication believes that Outcrop is an independent institution and thus, members of the publication should choose what articles must be on the paper.
However, Outcrop sees the need of having an adviser. Paquibot said “…ang kahalagahan naman ng Adviser ay hindi rin maikakaila dahil isa sa mga tungkulin ng bawat student institution ay magkaroon rin ng ugnay ang mga ito sa iba’t ibang sektor sa loob ng unibersidad. Ang adviser ng Outcrop ay nagsisilbing representante ng mga kaguruan sa mga maaring gawing hakbang ng student publication sa mga aktibidad nito.”
Paquibot also commented about the presence of repression in UP “Ang mga insidenteng masasabing may porma ng represyon ay hindi palaging nararanasan sa loob ng unibersidad, lalo pa’t ang UP ay isa sa mga institusyon sa ating bayan na nagtatanggol dito.” However she also added, “Sa kabila nito, hindi lubos na buo ang seguridad na hindi maranasan ng mga publikasyon sa loob ng pamantasan, gaya ng Outcrop, ang represyon maging sa UP. Sa tuwing dumadating sa puntong tila nagiging magkaiba o magkabaligtad ang interes ng administrasyon at ng mga institusyon ng sangkaestudyantehan, halimbawa.”
When asked if she already experienced harassment, she says “Nagpapasalamat ako kung gayon dahil sa ngayon, hindi pa naman ako nakararanas ng harassment. Kinalulungkot ko naman na ang iba kong kakilala na ginagawa rin ang aking mga tungkulin sa loob ng UPB at mula sa iba pang unibersidad ay direktang nakaranas na ng harassment, at kadalasan dahil hindi din madaling ipagtanggol ang ating sariling karapatan kung minsan dahil sa mga limitasyon, hindi agad-agad na nahaharap ang mga ito.”
Philippine Daily Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau Chief and CAC Professor Rolando Fernandez tackled in Journalism 107 class the essence of campus journalism in colleges and universities. Sir Rolly, as students and faculty members call him, argued that UP has campus freedom – for the members of Outcrop can freely choose and write topics which can voice out the interest of the students. However, private schools such as Saint Louis University may not have this will exercised – as the publication was confined to the stories that were purely positive and favorable to SLU’s administration.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS: FREEDOM + RESPONSIBILITY
A popular quote said that “With freedom comes with responsibility.” These two concepts cannot be separated from one another, based on a existentialist point of view. In spite of the issues surrounding these two newspapers – Paoad and Paquibot claimed that their respective student publications have campus press freedom. However, are they responsible?
Quoted from Paoad “Responsableng pamamahayag – wala kang kinikilingan, walang prinoprotektahan, at katotohanan lahat ng sinulat mo. Oo, sinisigurado namin na nasusunod ang Code of Ethics ng mga mamamahayag, dahil dapat din mabalanse mo ang mga karapatan mo bilang isang mamamahayag sa mga responsibilidad mo.”
On the other hand, Paquibot said “Ang responsableng pamamayahag ay pamamahayag nang matapat, walang sinusundang pansariling interes, nagtatalakay sa isyu ng mamamayan, at gumagamit ng kritikal na pag-aanalisa sa mga isyung ito. Ang mga nabanggit, sa totoo ay, ay kulang pa upang buong mailarawan ang responsableng pamamahayag. Sa huli at simpleng sagot, ang responsableng pamamahayag ay hindi paglalathala ng bulag na kagustuhan kundi matapang na paglalathala ng mga katotohanan, gaano man kabigat ang mga ito.
In addition, she said “Ang Code of Ethics ay sinusundan ng mga mamamahayag ng publikasyon sa abot ng makakaya at rasyonal na pagpili ng mga hakbangin… At gaya ng lahat ng nagpapatuloy na institusyon, hindi maiiwasan ang mga pagkakamali, ngunit ang mga pagkakamaling, kung mayroon man, ay pinanghahawakan bilang dahilan ng pagbabago at patuloy na pag-unlad.”
WHAT REALLY IS FREEDOM?
One optimistic college student may infer some idealistic perspectives on viewing himself and the world. An example of a perspective being idealistically seen upon is the concept of freedom.
What really is freedom? Like any ideology believed in, there is no such thing as absolute ideology. According to Ms. Sabrina Nikki Ramos, a former UPB Social Sciences instructor, there is no such thing as absolute freedom. We are all free, yes, but we are grounded by rules. And these rules restrict individuals in doing acts that are not socially acceptable. It is because grave consequences may follow if these rules are not pursued.
Going back, do these publications have Campus Press Freedom? Yes, as stated. However, again, it is not absolute. #