#Occupy Job Fair: What now?

A formation of dialogue

A  ’round-table’ like formation of chairs conducive for dialogue was set up last January 20, 2012 at the MVP basement. The open forum for the first ever Occupy Job Fair protest was supposed to start at 2:30PM. It was only after making their mark on Red Brick Road when the protesters arrived 20 minutes later.

One week has passed since the commotion and school feels less anxious and more at ease. I don’t want to re-hash the points that have repeatedly been made about the allegations of SOM-centrism which ideologically speaking refers to the emphasis on corporate/capitalist culture in Ateneo. But with midterms, submission of final requirements and graduation for seniors nearby, it appears that everyone has moved on. After all the fuss I hope that also means moving forward because Ateneans, and Filipinos in general, tend to talk more than they walk.

A silent protest speaks louder than words (Via Sabs Bengzon)

The Occupy Job Fair storm begins

Sharing is caring

“If it doesn’t work then I can raise my voice,” said Senior Job De Leon, one of the leaders of the protest.  Even though he was referring to the microphone malfunction that disrupted his opening speech, it’s reflective of the frenzy of multiple opinions sparked by this silent protest.

Many people expressed dissatisfaction online, whether it was about the protest or the notion of “SOM-centrism” underlying Ateneo culture.

The Facebook note “On the job fair, SOM-centrism and where do we go from here” by Job has 314 likes and 54 shares.

“DOWN from the hill” by Kit Kat Pecson has 40 likes and 30 shares.

“Short note on recent events” by Bian Villaneuva has 93 likes and 15 shares.

My video of my friend pretending to occupy Red Brick Road before it actually happened has 2,138 views.

While I like the discourse that ensued, if people feel so strongly about such a long-standing issue, how come a majority of these hits only occurred within a span of 2-3 days? When I spoke during the open forum the question I raised was: At what point did the Ateneo community start caring and sharing?

In a quick interview after the forum even Ms. Carla Siojo told me that  students are usually unresponsive. She gets “frustrated with all of the Ateneo Placement Office’s (APO) announcements and posts.” She joked that at least APO is popular now.

Ms. Carla Siojo listening intently to the concerns of the protesters

The protesters sit down to listen

Why a protest?

Many people were concerned that these grievances, although legitimate,  should have been discussed properly in an appropriate environment and cross-checked for factual basis before it was broadcast to the community.

Marion Waller, a french exchange student who joined the protest put it best when she said, “That’s the role of the protest. To put the things that should be debated in the public space,” especially in a school setting where a majority of students don’t usually bother to make an extra offline effort.

Peterson Poon, a student who expressed concerns about the way grievances were aired, commented on a Facebook note by Reg Guevarra. “Honestly, if nobody ever attacked the name SOM or claimed that the job fair was specifically privileging SOM/disenfranchising other schools, I/others would probably never have spoken up.”

A compilation of post-open forum interviews that Sabs Bengzon and I did 

Beyond the heat, beyond the noise

In my four college years in Ateneo this is the most vocal I’ve seen the community. Perhaps the medium was radical, but if other people voiced their opinions sooner then maybe this could have been prevented. Although there are bigger issues to be concerned about, if you can’t speak up in your community now then what more when you leave it.

“Walking down the Red Brick Road is a hard decision,” said Job. Whether you’re for or against the issue, with every week that passes by, the bigger challenge is always in lasting beyond the heat of the protest and raising your voice even without it.

Read more on the protest here.

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