Written By Insyirah Ami
It’s safe to say that every educational institution should have a structure of student rights. Just like consumer, constitutional and civil rights, these rights are no less important in protecting its target group – students. A little backstory for thought: Due to the inequality seen in schools, it was the students of Europe and North America themselves that we have to thank for what we have now as student rights. Among these rights are the rights to free speech and equality; which, to most students, are the most vital.
Nonetheless, awareness of these rights is yet to be all-inclusive. Yoon Peili, President of the Student Action Team, expressed, “One right that students may not be aware of is the right to voice out any issues or problems they are facing regarding our campus.” While some students choose to vent their frustrations via the Sunway Confession Page on Facebook, the Student Action Team assures that their utmost priority is advancing student rights here in Sunway.
That target will not be so easily met, as voiced by international student Fiona Yu, “We don’t even know who we can talk to about our thoughts. They should have a way to communicate with us. Additionally, I’ve never heard about international student rights.”
Perhaps students won’t have to look too far for a medium to voice out, as plans are underway by student councils to improve student life and listen to the plight of the community. Student rights won’t be so easily improved overnight – it literally took the European student right movement years to have it generally accepted.
As a starting point, Tan Shu Fong, treasurer to STACT, stated that “One of the plans to promote student rights would be by setting up a white board at the energy hub or foyer twice a year to allow students to comment or write out their opinions or suggestions on improving their student rights on campus.”
However, it’s not all about voicing out – there are some student rights Sunway students are already enjoying. They have the rights of protection of the freedom of expression; protection against improper evaluation and improper disclose; freedom of participation; freedom of inquiry and expression; the right to access certain information and updates; et cetera. Admissions to the college, services, facilities and activities are open to all Sunway students without slight regards of race, creed or national origin.
Despite yet to be perfect, student rights here are going in the right direction. Although, as per usual, there are some cases that often get overlooked. ADTP student, Rebecca Loh expressed: “There is discrimination against international students scattered around among the guards and office administrators”. Her predicament was echoed by international student, Atif Mahmood, who worries that international student demands take a longer time to be met due to discriminations.
International student rights are inclusive of all student rights that local students deserve. In Romania (the country with the greatest student right legislation in place), quality education and service is a right in and of itself – sans discrimination.
Sunway may still have a long way to go. However, cooperation between students and the student council is pertinent in achieving that bright future we all dream of. Chow Shenn Kuan, Secretary to STACT, maintains that she hopes students can gain the confidence to voice out their opinions. “Trust us, approach us and ask us – STACT will definitely help you obtain or regain perhaps certain student rights you would like to emphasize on strongly,” she stresses.
In essence, the Sunway Confession Page perhaps isn’t the best place to voice out if you’re looking for change (although it may be a very good medium to vent). But then again, change won’t simply happen tomorrow or next week. To close off with a quote from Rebecca Loh, “There isn’t a clear cut, black and white sheet stating the rights of students. So, as a student, we should educate ourselves with our own rights.” Here is to an even brighter, sunnier (pun intended) future for Sunway students.