Behind The Lives Of Campus Watchdogs

Tons of movies and television shows have portrayed characters with small means facing big challenges. The characters are easy to root for and we often find ourselves hoping they make it to the end of the story because let’s face it—we all love a good underdog story. But, fiction is often just a retelling of reality, a metaphor to explain things to us in a different perspective, and usually, they are a lot more real than we think. In the biblical tale of David and Goliath, there is a David. In state universities, there are college publications. When the Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act was signed, students rejoiced and parents were relieved because higher education in state universities is now completely subsidized by the government—not just the tuition fees but everything listed on a student’s receipt upon enrollment. It just so happened that included among these subsidized payments is the publication fee. Listed under ‘development fees,’ this would mean that the campus publications in state universities could no longer collect their fund from the students. The government will still provide funding for the university publication as it is written into law that all schools must have one. In a less complicated world, this would have been fine. However, this is not the case. In Bicol University, the colleges and campuses also have individual publications separate to the university publication. This has been the culture in colleges for many years and although some have ceased to exist due to lack of support and participation, many have endured and continued to serve as the disseminators of information to the student body. The ‘no collection’ rule was a hard hit to college publications. In the face of the law, the campus journalists had to abide. Unable to collect fees from the students, college publications turned to other options to fund their operations and printing costs.


 Jhoan Villanueva, the chairman of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Bicol chapter, cited the problems encountered by campus publications in the region and other places in the country. “In the guidelines for the free education program, publication fees are listed among the other school fees that will not be any more collected from the students. In PUP Sta. Mesa, college-based publications were prohibited to collect their publication fees. Same complaints were also received from Himati of University of the Philippines-Mindanao and university and college publications of Bicol University,” Villanueva stated. Kreizel Bojero, Editor-in-Chief of Budyong, the publication of the BU College of Arts and Letters published a Facebook post regarding their publication’s challenge to release a tabloid, newsletter, and l Bojero said. To augment the costs of their operational expenses, they tried finding advertisers but many businesses had hesitancies to invest in a campus publication. She added that although there were willing donors, the amount accumulated was not enough. “We [asked] for the administration’s financial assistance but we are faced with the fact they are also operating on small money, therefore little to no financial assistance can be given to us,” Bojero stated. Ian Llaneta, the Editor-in-Chief of The Appraiser, the publication of the College of Business Economics and Managemnet, affirmed that their main problem was also the same with Budyong. “Like other college pubs in BU, we are not allowed anymore to collect fees. Even though we have been given many options to consider, we still struggle to print hard copies because offset printing is so expensive,” Llaneta said. He add- ed that their publica- tion fund i s n o t only used for the printing of the newspapers but for the other operational expenses as well. Aside from donations, he stated that they had to use their personal money to augment the other costs. Furthermore, he noted that due to the free higher education law, the scholarships of students serving in publications had become obsolete. “Because of RA 10931, students are not motivated to serve publications because they think there are no benefits to joining one. Though not all students think that way, incentives are still a factor in keeping publications alive,” he said.


Bojero’s Facebook post also included the administration’s suggestion to make publications as organizations so that they may be allowed to collect fees. However, this is in conflict with the quality of publications being independent from any form of regulation. “I fear that repression in campus papers might intensify if campus papers were regulated, especially by the school admin. Campus pubs are made to serve the interests of the students. Exposing the truth and uncovering stories can change the course of the future but censoring and intervening the campus press threatens such change,” Villanueva said. Campus journalists voiced their concerns over this suggestion as becoming an organization would mean they would be obliged to submit to accreditation. “I’m not in favor of the possibility of regulating publications because they are independent bodies. If ever, it may threaten campus press freedom,” Llaneta stated. In the The Gearcast, the publication of College of Engineering, Kenru Barasona said that the freedom of the press is the purpose of the publication. “If a publication is regulated, it won’t be a publication anymore,” he said. When David fought Goliath, everybody thought he was going to die, that he would be defeated by a force greater than he was. Like the b i b l i c a l character, campus publications still remain active in state universities in in spite of the greater challenges. Llaneta said journalism is not just to inform but also to inspire and influence others. Although not everyone may care about the articles they have written, they know that there are students who continue to rely and depend on their publication. “After all, it is more than just releasing a [newspaper] but it’s about leaving a mark to the readers. Even though sometimes it is difficult to achieve total independence, publications will continue to exist to serve the community and the students,” he concluded. Publications such as Budyong, The Appraiser, The Gearcast and many others representing state universities alike remind us that to simply persevere may be enough. To simply exist may be enough. In the story of David and Goliath, let’s not forget that had David failed to try, he would not have beaten the odds. “The idea that campus journalism exists in our college is already a relief to most people. It is because the maintenance of a campus publication relays a message that the fight of the press is still on-going,” Bojero said.

𝙒𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙗𝙮 𝙀𝙡𝙮𝙨𝙨𝙖 𝙆𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙀𝙡𝙡𝙖
𝙉𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧 2018