Thursday, October 12, 2006
As the UPM-USC is not merely a bureaucratic institution but also a significant political institution with a broad constituency, it is absolutely essential that it maintains a position of leadership. It is from this leadership that it derives its legitimacy and the support of the student body.
The Edjop Manual clearly states –
“The student council must hold true to its orientation of providing genuine service to the students. This then must be embodied from the leadership down to student organizations and individuals that directly participate in student council governance. Student leadership, therefore, is not only manifested by issuing orders but in concretely carrying out the responsibility in effectively leading the whole student body in their struggle for student rights and welfare.
The leadership in the council must provide guidance to all the members to be able to unite them in the council’s plans, programs and other decisions of the councils. Council members, on the other hand, should exercise their right to take part in discussions, to pose inquiry and criticisms, to present suggestions to colleagues and to participate in decision-making. The rights of student council leaders go hand in hand with the responsibility of raising their own level of consciousness and practical knowledge, to be responsible for all statements they have issued, and to uphold the integrity of the student council.”
The student council is what can be called a grass-roots bureaucracy, as it is an instrumentality that is directly accountable to its constituents. If the student council fails in its objectives or in the implementation of its plans and projects, it is easily subject to the scrutiny and criticism of its constituents. It cannot act from as though its constituents are separate from it, as the student council must recognize that its authority is derived from the very constituents they serve. This, I think, is what makes a bureaucracy with fused political decision-making powers and administrative functions unique. It shall always be subject to direct attack by its constituents if it defaults in its administrative functions regarding its day-to-day operations and/or in its political decision-making regarding its policies.
Like the rest of government bureaucracies, student councils also employ committee systems to facilitate the delegation of tasks, projects, and campaigns. According to the Edjop Manual –
“In order to unite the members, the student council should adopt a committee system that embodies the dynamics of collective leadership and decision-making. It is the best guard against monopoly of individuals or selective groups in the distribution of tasks and formulation of policies and decisions. The student council should at least have these working committees: education, finance, campaign and publicity, rights and welfare, among others. In order to have an effective committee system each member should have definite tasks and grasp of the adopted program of action for a given time frame, so that each one would be guided by the overall thrust of the student council.”
In a student council, there is a great emphasis on collective leadership of the entire student council and not only that of the Chairperson or President. Consensus-building is always encouraged rather than dividing the house during voting on pertinent issues and campaigns. The committee system also empowers other members of the student council to be able to exercise sufficient authority, aside from that of the Chairperson. However, the committee system and consensus-building methods may become a big administrative stumbling block in the operations of a student council.