By JHAMES PAREDES
TUGUEGARAO CITY — Students of Cagayan State University (CSU) Andrews campus were barred by the university’s administration from conducting a prayer vigil-candle lighting ceremony in memoriam for Rodolfo Urmanita or Roda, the third year Education student who committed suicide last January 16.
The activity was spearheaded by the Campus Student Government, in cooperation with Kabataan Partylist Cagayan Valley and Masakbayan CV, to share their deepest condolences and sympathy to Roda and his family.
Call for justice
During the afternoon of February 2, students were already beginning to gather for the program when members of the CSU administration questioned the art installation carrying the call: Justice for Roda.
It must be recalled that, according to testimonies from friends and family, Roda was humiliated by a certain cashier upon enrolling because he still needed to pay an “outstanding balance” from last semester. Later on, some CSU personnel who attended Roda’s wake at Barangay Afunan, Camalaniugan confirm that he was not able to enroll, owing to the absence of a certifying stamp which would prove that he had paid the required fees.
While this may not be the main factor for Roda’s alleged mental health situation, it cannot be denied that the unexplained fees that appeared in Roda’s and other students’ assessment forms raise a legitimate inquiry to the school’s matriculation system. With the ratification of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, students of CSU are still being obligated to pay school fees to be able to enroll. Truly, the call for Justice for Roda and other victims of redundant, exorbitant and dubious miscellaneous fees is only apt to address the existing system of education at CSU. The university administration is negligent to the plight of its students, wherein most come from poor families.
Presence of “outsiders”
CSU officials also distrusted the involvement of what they deem “outsiders” in the activity. These “outsiders” however are Roda’s family, his friends, sympathetic students from other campuses, and the provincial coordinators of KPL CV and Masakbayan. All of who had been invited to participate in the program. One official even disclosed that they were warned that some groups have “infiltrated” the university to “politicize” Roda’s death and smear the name of the university.
An official insinuated that the activity was “causing chaos” to the school, which was premature, since the program had not even began. The same official even threatened to call the police and blotter the present KPL coordinator. Lastly, with knowledge that the family had travelled from Camalaniugan town to CSU to attend the activity, the CSU administration shut its gates and did not even consider speaking to the family.
KPL CV condemns these acts of harassment against student leaders and progressive organizations. True to its mandate to protect the democratic rights of the youth and students, KPL CV shall not cower at the face of repression. “We know our rights. CSU is a public institution and it is from the pockets of the people and the students that this university exists. We have every right to be here with his family and friends to grieve and call for justice for Roda,” said KPL spokersperson Al-Jafar Enidal.
The CSU administration may exert extra effort to wash their hands clean and snub responsibility for Roda’s death, but their recent actions have proven that they are guilty.
Roda’s family and friends, along with KPL CV and Masakbayan CV, resolutely pushed through with the candle-lighting program outside the university. # nordis.net