The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines decried the suspension of four Quezon City Science High School students for their work on the blog, scientiaetvirtus.multiply.com.
The bloggers published a series of attacks on their principal, summarizing their moves as a lack of respect for someone who shows no respect. The blog’s content is abhorrent to any rational observer fully aware that these writers are minors — it is one thing to call for the head of an administrator, but it is another to call for her death.
Thus, the school administration moved to suspend four students whose names they did not disclose. They also shut down the two school papers, The Electron and Banyuhay. No surprise then that the CEGP condemn, “It is disturbing to learn that high school students, in their very young age, are being subjected to this kind of campus repression, their right to freedom of speech and expression undermined.”
Not so fast. I have several comments.
I cannot completely condemn what the QCSH administrators did for I do not know the extent of the four students’ involvement with the blog. Neither are we privy to the relationship of the blog with the school papers. Hence, it is impossible — at least based on what I’ve been reading in the media — to pass judgment. I hope the CEGP know more than I do, otherwise releasing such a statement would be irresponsible of them.
Nonetheless, I do not discredit the opposition to the QCSH administration either. Perhaps, all allegations in the blog are true. Their ruling may or may not be overkill. Either way, I will suspend judgment.
However, I am sure of several things.
That regardless of the veracity of the students’ claims, some punitive action is in order even if their principal is guilty. These students are minors. As a school, the QCSH is responsible for them and their actions. Exposing truth through journalism is one thing (and their blog is hardly journalism), but abjectly defaming another person is another. The school cannot tolerate such actions for doing so will ultimately reflect on them as educators. That doesn’t bode well for the parents, the alumni, their future students, and all those who have a stake in the school doing well.
I rather we form students who can constructively engage the truth, rather than resorting to wanton barbarism to get things done.
I am also certain, that if all the allegations against their principal are true, then justice must be served. Unfortunately, the blog does not provide a useful account of everything she has supposedly done wrong. Most of what they have written is juvenile ridicule with no clear line of protest nor solid plan of action. I see traces of a potential position paper, but emphasis on potential. I also wonder — what is happening on the faculty side? Reports have been eerily silent of how the rest of the QCHS reacts to all these, not that I expect the media, or the school admin for that matter, to disclose these details.
Hence, with all things being equal, let’s suppose that everything on the blog is true. There is a case to be made for the termination of the principal, but without a long, thorough administrative investigation which will ultimately decide her fate. There is also a case to be made for the students’ expulsion, or at the least, non-graduation provided that they positively identify the authors of the blog and these children are thoroughly investigated into as well.
Perhaps, there would be no discussion of these students’ suspension if the principal is subjected to administrative review. That would be fair and symmetrical, but without any signs (in the media, at least) of such review, then to some degree it’s possibly unfair and asymmetric. That explains the ire of some, but I rather we be sober and rational considering how little we really know. For if there is one lesson to be learned in all these, it is that freedom of speech is not absolute. There is such a thing as responsibility too.