Administrative restraints have long been an enduring bane among student publications keen on forwarding an emancipating reportage of the issues that beset their institution and the nation at large. Shackled by mechanisms of control, campus journalists are subjected to interventions on editorial decisions, little to no funding that debilitate their daily operations, and censorship of content critical to the structures they are meant to hold to account.
This lack of autonomy is what An Lantawan, Leyte Normal University’s campus publication, fears as their university administration imposed the publication to undergo an organizational accreditation process—the first time it was asked to do so since it was founded in the 1970s. This poses a peril to the critical practices of campus publications whose incisive evaluation of pressing concerns hinges on their autonomous operations, unfettered by the interests of powers-that-be.
The trepidation expressed by the publication is grounded in the shared political situation that campus publications in the country face. From 2010 to 2020, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines recorded around 1,000 cases of campus press violations. These offenses include administrative interference, libel suits against writers, and harassment.
Instances of these curtailments should, theoretically, be barred by the Campus Journalism Act (CJA). Passed in 1991, the law endeavored to spur independent campus journalism “as a means of strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking.” Yet decades of its implementation only divulge its toothlessness. With no penalty for transgressions, administrators stifle campus journalists’ critical voices with impunity.
Contrary to the tenuous provisions of the CJA, the Campus Press Freedom Bill seeks to penalize violations of the rights of campus journalists, ensure observance of independence, and secure the funding of publications. As the policy remains in limbo in Congress, there is a growing imperative for an invigorated clamor for its passage now that a slew of attacks against the youth sharpens.
Cognizant of this interlinked character of the youth’s struggles, student publications can succeed with their campaign for independence and surmount the hurdles of administrative capture by vitalizing their engagement with the broader youth movement.
These violations of campus journalists’ freedom of expression, after all, are part of a larger repressive project that encroaches on all student institutions and progressive formations. Publications like An Lantawan, critical of local and national affairs, are restrained by administrators to obstruct the realities of injustice befalling their constituents. The youth, thus, are deliberately impeded from gaining the political consciousness that will goad them to change their conditions.
In the face of state terror, the need for student publications to reinforce their involvement with the student movement magnifies. It is in these times of crisis that these problems must be exposed as a rallying cry to everyone to subvert the circumstances that facilitated these attacks. Operating from the grassroots, campus publications have the capacity to encapsulate the dilemmas taking place in their localities, shedding light on the paramount concerns of the community that need to be addressed.
With waning trust and growing disapproval from the masses who are informed by their punctuated suffering, the national administration will only ramp up its deceptive efforts to continue drawing the people in and containing their discontent. Campaigning against the entire machinery of repression necessitates a concerted effort from all students as these attacks cascade to student publications.
These joint initiatives could come in the form of augmenting coverage of the plight of the youth, bolstering the calls they forward through a sharper appraisal of situations being reported, and expanding allyship with the youth to bolster the pressure that will topple the impositions of those in power.
The interlocking facets of repression that the youth confront must serve as a unifying call for publications, councils, and organizations to bind themselves in the struggle. Campus journalists play a pivotal role in heightening these truths—defying dictations and charting a progressive path towards a liberating press that professes its service to the students and other sectors of society, bowing to no school or national administration. ●
First published in the November 13, 2023 print edition of the Collegian.
Dec 2, 2023
Ang hirap pala kapag ako na ang nakatatanggap ng mga pangungumusta mo, ng mga kwento mo, ng mga ngiti mo.
Dec 2, 2023
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