“A university’s essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism – a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else.” Richard Hofstadter
UiTM has a unique philosophy – a student’s attitude, behaviour and habits are part of what constitutes ‘preparation for life’. Like any other university alumnus, I have my share of grouses against the university authorities and policies, but I am and will forever be fond of that institution. The wealth of life experience there pretty much formed the foundation of my way of thought, my way of reasoning, and my current and future way of life.
“Freedom of inquiry, freedom of discussion, and freedom of teaching – without these a university cannot exist.” Robert Maynard Hutchins
However, it grieves me to state that the current administration in that institution’s Law School does not facilitate free thought. My colleagues and I were, and my current juniors are, subjected to mild warnings, punitive measures and at times open harassment by both administrative and academic staff which continue currently.
If a student expresses political opinion (or makes a mistake of placing DSAI’s photo on a wills drafting assignment) not in line with a Particular Political Party, then he or she will be called to the Dean’s Office and is given a fine lecture. At times, for expressing an opinion which offends the stringent religious and political views of a lecturer, the student fails the subject. Seniors pass down profiles of lecturers’ personal views to juniors for survival.
If a lecturer expresses independent opinion which disagree with the Vice Chancellor’s, he or she is transferred. If students and lecturers are aligned with that Particular Political Party, he or she will receive many privileges. Every move, every word, every posting in Facebook/Twitter/Blog is monitored and commented on, at times during the compulsory brainwashing ‘modules’.
All the above is made possible by AUKU, as it empowers the university to hold the students as well as lecturers at the mercy of certain individuals in power and favours little to the rights of the students. There is no balance of equitable right and reason in AUKU. It curbs freedom of thought; it shackles the students’ imagination, ability to link logic with reason, to string every statement with facts.
If all you are allowed is a regurgitation of transcribed, templated opinions and views unopposed, how can anyone learn how to engage and think rationally let alone become intelligent? Engagement, criticism and debates are key to mental development. AUKU is an indoctrination tool clothed under the pretence of ‘protecting students from deviant thoughts.’ AUKU must be abolished!
“There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see.” John Masefield
My hope and support for the student movement is so that our universities can become true centres of intellectual discourse, attracting the brightest minds, producing the highest quality dissertations. My hope and support is for our university students, the student that I once was, the students who are, and the students who will be eventually our future.
May Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Negara be successful in your endeavours!
Azira is a self-professed mongrel Malaysian. She hopes to have “Malay” and “non-Malay” relegated as a relic of the past sometime in the future. She is a UiTM graduate currently undergoing training to become a lawyer.