Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two Sides of the Coin

A first year student stood up and asked the following question: "I have a pen pal from Russia. Am I allowed to correspond with him from here?"

I can't remember what was the answer to that fairly odd question, because it happened way back in 1998, when I was a first year student as well. This question was asked during our long and tiresome orientation week where we learned the university song (laughed at it too, of course), and where people droned on about the rules and regulations and explained the many different ways you could get yourself expelled. That was also the time when we all found out about AUKU (University and University Colleges Act)

Being 18 and politically ignorant then, my friends and I never did find the act get in the way of our daily lives. Many things have happened since then, and thirteen years later university students are actually rising against the act. For some reason, they believe that political freedom and participation is a must in order for them to grow up and be forward thinking people. After all, if you are fully responsible for your well being at 18 (you are legally allowed to be fully employed, get your driver's license and even get married and have your own kids at 18), why can't you be involved in politics?

This opposition towards the act got much more interesting in the recent days because of a particular student activist who was suspended for 18 months for lowering a banner for 5 minutes. The banner apparently depicted the image of the Prime Minister. They say the suspension is to uphold the name of the university as their job is to train future educators, and who would want a teacher who is against authority?

 Last week, the radio station I listen to ran a set of interviews, the first with a professor from the university which suspended the student activist, and on the second day, an interview with the student activist himself! I found it most refreshing as the radio station had decided to present us with both sides of the story, instead of only the story of the side which was more powerful. An institution of higher education versus a single student sure sounds like David versus Goliath. It was interesting to note that the student had some degree of maturity in the way he spoke and he knew what he was doing. He thinks that if students don't fight against oppressive laws against students, who will? Who wants teachers who can't think for themselves? 

A very interesting other side of the coin indeed. Kudos to the radio station.

15 comments:

  1. True, but it's tough to go against the system, they just wnat everyone to fall in line.

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    1. Yeah, I suppose they've been so used to 'yes-men' that the sudden rise of people with objections are frowned upon.

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  2. We're supposed to teach people to think for themselves not bully them into submission. Which explains the state of this country.

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    1. Exactly... call me a conspiracy theorist, but the more I look at the policies, the more I think they want us to remain stupid so that we can be ruled easily.

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  3. thats a fair interview by the radio station.
    the quality of the teachers that we seem to be producing in the last 15 years is so embarassingly full of shit.
    from own experiences and the stories i hear from those who are in the system, a great teacher is hard to find.

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    1. Yeah, I think my primary school teachers were a really dedicated bunch... (late 80's to early 90's), but the secondary school teachers - pisses me off just to think of them and how they prioritised winning sekolah dalam taman instead of academic excellence.

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    2. lol. ya i had better primary school teachers as well. but the secondary wasnt too bad although there were some dumb ones.

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  4. Kudos to the station indeed, and to the guy who challenged the university like that. It's always good to get both sides of the coin in an argument and "Who would want a teacher that is against authority" and "Who will fight against oppressive laws against students if students won't? Who wants a teacher that can't think for themselves?" are excellent arguments. I'm glad that the student is actually mature and not just some anarchist out to be a douchebag.

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    1. Yeah, I was very impressed at how mature he was, especially when he said he wasn't angry at being suspended.

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  5. What a brave student. And also a brave radio station. There are not many media outlets that encourage both sides of the story.

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    1. Agreed. I hope the radio station doesn't get into trouble.

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  6. Wouldn't the teacher also count as an authority figure?

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    1. Only in school... this dude is still a student.

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  7. The deed of one young man reflects the sentiments of thousands, maybe millions in this country. Government fears chaos, schools fears the same thing, hence comes acts and rules to avert, not to control, or maybe both. Ah, politics, tiresome politics.

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    1. They're just scared that people have stopped being submissive, I guess. Tiresome politics indeed.

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