A critical race

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The race for the presidency of the University of the Philippine system is taking a rather interesting twist.

We learned from well-placed sources within the state university that two major fraternities are negotiating the outcome of the election where incumbent UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo is considered a frontrunner what with the support he is getting from various sectors in and out of the university.

Apart from Dr. Nemenzo, the other nominees are Patrick Alain T. Azanza, Salvador B. Belaro Jr., Angelo A. Jimenez, Benito M. Pacheco, and Fernando C. Sanchez Jr.

The UP Board of Regents, the university’s highest policy-making body, will vote on the next UP president on Dec 9, 2022.

While fraternities are also part of the UP constituency, it behooves the Board of Regents to listen to all sentiments of key sectors and members of the academic community.

The next UP president will not just become president of an organization or fraternity, but of the state university which has become the fulcrum of independent and conscious thinking and an agent of tangible nation-building efforts.

While misguided state agents have labeled the university as the hotbed of this and that, they forgot that UP was also at the forefront of staving off COVID-19, thanks to its efforts to equip, train, and establish subnational laboratories that hastened the testing and detection of the infection.

Nor is the next UP president should operate under the thumb of functionaries who see their posts as dictatorial emplacements instead of shepherds of the next generation.

Universities were conceived to hone and form experts who are also humanists. We refer to experts who solve the problems of the world from a technical perspective, but they must also be human enough to realize and calibrate the impacts of their thoughts and actions on a broader sector of our community.

The next UP president, therefore, should be realistic on the needs of an ever-changing world without losing sight that our universe is still a commune of humans with basic rights and essential needs.

The next UP president should not be a spineless administrator nor a fawning lackey of pompous functionaries. The worse kind of person to lead the university is someone who was a product of backroom talks and murky compromises.

The next UP president should represent the university, not just of egos and cliques.