Photo by Summer Untalan, Online Content Editor
Today, the decision of the Board of Regents (BOR) on who will be the next Bicol University (BU) president will be unveiled. For the most part, this decision will be a choice between widening the institution’s lens on the protection of student rights and concerns or mirroring the previous administration’s lack of progressive actions.
While BU has indeed partaken in the race to become a world-class university under the term of Dr. Arnulfo M. Mascariñas, the fallouts of conservative and reactionary stances towards red-tagging, police and military interventions, and intimidation continue to aggravate student - activists. It echoes the question that progressive students seek answers to: Will my next president protect my democratic right of expression?
Dr. Ofelia Samar - Sy has proved to be resourceful as the dean of the BU College of Medicine, and she promises to do so if elected president. We have witnessed the growth in infrastructures and facilities under the incumbent administration, and under a Sy presidency lies the promises of internationalization, digitalization, and income-generating university-wide projects through external linkages.
A Sy presidency assures, above all, a safe space for activism in the university. As a mother, she recalls to have always been on top of serving the plight of the students, and BUeños can expect the same treatment, if not better, under her term. Her resolve to build external connections for the university kindled with student-centered compassion offsets her contenders’ promises of a smart university as the focal point in their plans.
The rags-to-riches story of Dr. Sy may be a familiar word to the students, but it offers a clear-cut intervention that Sy wishes to execute in her time. Coming from a poor family, she empathizes with students who struggle to maintain their studies, especially those in the grassroots communities. Heightened by the pandemic, students are still struggling to shift back to in-person classes after two years of virtual connections. She knows and bears their hardships, and notes that her No Poverty goal is also the primary reason she went back to Bicol University. She believes that “if you are able to help one poor student to be able to finish studies and graduate, that will really stop the cycle of poverty in the Philippines.”
Sy is committed to bridging national and international organizations to Bicol University that will in turn provide exposure for the students in the global scope and capacitate income-generating projects that will help the university stand on its own in a few years time. Sy’s track record also speaks for herself — the first woman summa cum laude in the university, a registered physician since 1988 and a medical educator since 1994, and one of the Outstanding Filipino Physicians in 2022.
The General Legislative Council has also officially endorsed Sy during HURON: The Presidential Town Hall. She garnered majority of the students’ votes in the BU Presidentiables Mock Elections through online and on-site votation.
With all of these, she has our endorsement.