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“Why do we have more than one university-wide student publication?”
This question has bugged me even before the start of the academic year, about the time when we began preparations for our organization’s 1st General Assembly for the year. The assembly also serves as an orientation of sorts for our new members. At the time, I feared that one of our highly-enthusiastic-about-college-life freshmen would notice the Publication War in the University and ask the question.
To better understand this Publication War, it helps to take a peek at the history of student publications in the University of San Carlos. Both publications were nice enough to provide some bits of history to their readers, so I’m going to pull some materials from them.
There used to be only one university-wide student paper. It began in the year 1932 and was then named El Estudiante. For some unknown reason, the name was changed to The Carolinian some years later. As The Carolinian, the publication became a well-respected entity, even in the national level. Unfortunately, The Carolinian was forced to cease operations in two occasions: the Japanese Occupation during the Second World War and the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.
After Martial Law was called off in 1981, the publication got up and began operating under a new name, Today’s Carolinian. For some time, Today’s Carolinian was hailed as best publication by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. Its downfall then followed, beginning with an embezzlement case and the refusal of the editorial board to submit to external audit. The infamous series of blasphemous and obscene content followed. Finally, the school administration stopped collecting the publication fees and the paper was once again forced to stop in 2004.
In 2011, two initiatives began aimed at reviving the student publication. The Office of Student Affairs began giving out application forms and looking for people to man what is now The Carolinian. The Supreme Student Council also began looking for potential staff members for Today’s Carolinian. Now we have two university-wide student papers.
After that, we have what I like to refer to as the Publication War. Readers of both papers might notice that The Carolinian prefers to think of Today’s Carolinian as a remnant of the past and that it ought to stay there. The editorial board of The C, as the former is fondly called, suggests that TC is the thing of a certain political party in the University, thus labeling it as propaganda, and even goes as far as saying that the officers of the Supreme Student Council, majority of who come from that party, aren’t human. TC, in the introductory message of its maiden issue, questions the legality of the process behind the creation of The C.
Today, it would appear that the badmouthing has died down a little. The C has limited their statements to simply insisting that they are official and nonpartisan. TC hasn’t said a thing, but then that’s because they haven’t released any (major) issue this year.
So who’s winning this little war? In terms of number of issues released, colored print and the administration’s support in its stand as the official publication, The Carolinian has the upper hand. In terms of financial transparency though, Today’s Carolinian has managed to get this one right to some extent. Although their statements don’t appear to be audited by a certified public accountant, they’re still financial statements. The Carolinian, which has released six issues since revival, hasn’t given any sort of financial statement. An audited financial report of expenses, which should be published in the paper at the end of a school term, is a requirement of the implementing rules and regulations of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991.
But perhaps the question that should really be asked is “Why all the badmouthing?” This especially goes out to The Carolinian, who has been going about it in more than one issue as though the other paper is a threat to its existence. It would seem obvious that The Carolinian is obsessed with reminding its readers that they’re the only official and independent publication (and I don’t mean the print on their front covers). It’s enough to make me wonder if there’s an underlying motive behind the repetitive statement. Meanwhile, Today’s has kept its mouth shut after its maiden issue. They’re now just sitting in the corner and doing nothing. For now, at least.
(Author’s note: The author is not in any way affiliated with either The Carolinian or Today’s Carolinian. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and are not representative of Happy Times Today or any of its administrators.)
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