TURNING POINT: Crimes and the Decay of a University

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/12 December) — Another student was felled and died a senseless death at the Marawi campus of the Mindanao State University a few days ago.

It is certain that the killing of Crishlanne Aunar Masancay will be added to the statistic of unsolved crimes in the university that has increasingly become a killing field for students and other innocent victims.

Through the years MSUans have seethed and raged and ranted over the heinous crimes – murder, arson, rape, banditry, kidnapping and what have you – endlessly committed in the very heart of the university we have loved so much.

Time and again, the alumni had proposed and recommended measures to University management on how to protect and secure the University constituency from the growing criminality on campus.

Promises and assurances had been made, but nothing of worth ever happened. After a flurry of moves to investigate fruitlessly every disturbing incident on campus, it is business as usual for the bedeviled University.

The apologists of the University management are often heard saying: murder, rape, kidnapping, stabbing, drug pushing, thievery and what else are happening everywhere. And so why single out MSU and highlight the criminality on campus? If one is scared of the risks and perils obtaining in the place, then he has no business staying at the Marawi campus of the Mindanao State University.

Thus the show must go on, they seem to suggest. Anyway, once the putrid smell of burnt human flesh disappears to thin air, the blood in the pavement dries up or washed away by the rain, the sobbing of rape victims too far away to hear – the despicable events would soon gradually lose their sting and their hurt and everything will soon be forgotten.

Thus the University administration doesn’t seem to care and worry. After all, the cheap and affordable cost of education offered by the state-funded University will continue to attract and flock poor students from all over Mindanao to its fold. The University will not collapse from the criminality in its midst.

But we care. And we demand change. We don’t want our Alma Mater to go to the dogs. We don’t want to surrender to the so-called healing power of time the ills that gnaw and rot the very foundation of our University – such kind of illness never heals that way. We don’t want fear, apathy, indifference and hopelessness to dwell in the University because they are the worst enemy of academic freedom and excellence.

A university is supposed to be a citadel of free minds, a marketplace of ideas where thoughts are developed, exchanged and argued in search for truth, beauty and justice and such other things that enhance the quality of life, or make it worth living. A university and its ideals will not survive and flourish in an environment where fear and uncertainty reigns. Terror and academic freedom are incompatible.

The Mindanao State University has to be saved from continuing decline, decay and death. Thus we urge all concerned and the leadership of the land to get a close look at MSU and initiate reforms in behalf of the future of the sons and daughter of Mindanao. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., was a research and extension worker, professor and the first chancellor of the Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental. He was a British Council fellow and trained in 1994 at Sheffield University, United Kingdom, on Participatory Planning and Environmentally Responsible Development. Upon retirement, he served as national consultant to the ADB-DENR project on integrated coastal resource management. He is the immediate past president of the MSU Alumni Association.)