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Election 2012, Jake Crisologo, The Philopino

Unity through Diversity or in Spite of it?


The Philopino | Jake Crisologo

Real life and an excess of Hollywood movies have taught me that there is always a simple prerequisite to unity – common gain or loss. The current USC elections confused me about this concept of commonality. The plot for the movie Inception was easier to follow.

As a university that is filled with such diverse students, from the courses that we have chosen, the things that we love, do or believe in, the things that ultimately define who we are, a call for unity is often assumed a need in achieving our goals as one UP. Our official representation is actualized through our student council. Essentially, they write up the plan for the rest of us, ideally after the consultations and whatever avenue so we know what we commonly want.

The regular cynic, hateful and miserable in his or her own foul judgments can go on with a very wicked and offensive monologue about how our USC has become merely a symbol for order, rather than an institution that actually works towards it. No work really gets done and the ultimate incentive for being in the council is having to write something in your CV. I could practically smell the gasps of the appalled candidates and incumbents as I’m writing this down but this is actually why some students never vote.

Those who refuse to vote see the representative power of USC as superficial because UP is too diverse anyway to find a common method of getting things done, like say having a proposal for a budget cut. Theoretically speaking, if everybody is represented with the equal amount of conviction, means and avenues, then individual groups would simply be negated by other groups. Nothing gets done because nobody will give in and they feel that their principles are absolute.

What I’m driving at is a reality check; the council will not be able to cater to what everybody wants – but it can be smart in catering to the things that matter. Sure, we are diverse but common interests, gains and losses will bind as at the end of the day, like the way hunger binds you to a boodle fight, even if you’re a princess. The USC is not just a numbers game with minorities and majorities, with the latter getting what they want because there’s more of them (though this is how democracy typically operates). There are differences that matter and those that don’t, at least in the political grounds of student democracy. Like, if you secretly like Justin Beiber even if your friends hate him/her, it doesn’t matter enough to put the matter to the USC.

In their current campaigns, ALYANSA and KAISA are both essentially campaigning for diversity, differently worded but promising the same thing—a USC that would listen to and respect the differences between individuals. STAND-UP is more or less sticking to their brand as the “right” kind of activism. Martin Loon finishes up the drift with his novel independence, in a campaign that magnanimously neglects partisanship; however, he hasn’t justified how his personal biases are better than the biases of a partisan candidate.

Accepting diversity has always had its own appeal because it’s the most democratic way to forge an identity. It makes us feel special and in a way, this attitude towards diversity makes us a healthier society. We accept other people even if they’re different because, Oprah help me, we’re all beautiful. Lalala. But as much as we celebrate diversity, we ultimately get along because of its polar opposite: commonality.

For example, people involved in the LGBT movement aren’t all part of the third sex. Many are straight, and not even all feminists are women. Many straight people advocate gay marriage not because they are secretly gay, but because they are people – being a person doesn’t have to have a gender standard. It’s the same way with other movements that have fought for the marginalized or the different and discriminated because of race or social standing. Being diverse is a common thing, even if it sounds like a paradox.

So are we unified by diversity or are we unified in spite of it? I don’t know exactly, but what I do know is that we are not that diverse. The things that we share will eventually be the things that we fight for. Partisanship is not wrong because everybody has the right to carry and defend their own principles, and partisanship bias doesn’t necessarily mean that they do not concern the rest of the students, in spite of not being part of the party.

What’s confusing with this year’s USC campaigns and platforms is that they all have merits but they will never be perfect. Amidst the black propaganda, the “truth” and the rhetoric, the moral complexity and all, the drama of democracy becomes worth pondering. Or am exaggerating the value of my vote?

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About aitsalimbay

The official newsletter of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism.

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