SARAH RAYMUNDO is an Assistant Professor from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman's Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. She's been teaching in UP for ten years. She has met, and even exceeded, the minimum requirements for tenure. Why then, after a year since she applied for tenure, is Prof. Raymundo being denied permanent status in the university?

Sarah is the Secretary-General of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Council, and an active member of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang: Political Repression in the Academe, Feb. 3, 2009, CM Recto Hall, UP-Diliman

A statement delivered by Prof. Sarah Raymundo* in the forum "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang: Political Repression in the Academe," on February 3, 2009 at the Claro M. Recto Hall, Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

I would like to begin with an argument which I deem as very urgent in making sense of this tenure battle in which I find myself in the middle of. "One cannot get an accurate picture of the educational institution without completely transforming the image it manages to project of itself through the logic of its operation or, more precisely, through the symbolic violence it commits insofar as it is able to impose the misrecognition of its true logic upon those who participate in it (Bourdieu, 1999:116)." We are those participants.

The school system is mainly that institution which is manifestly engaged in the distribution of knowledge. This function involves the sanctioning of technical competences required in the division of labor in society. The school system, therefore, plays a crucial role in the reproduction of competences which in turn are reproductive of the dominant social relations that make up hierarchies in society. By calling your attention to this undeniable fact, I am also urging you to recognize the entanglements between the school system and the reproduction of class divisions. This condition places the academe in the unsettling dynamics of the class war. This is the war between those who labor to reinforce the prevalent mode of living and relating to other people, and those who work in order to expose that another mode of living and relating is not only possible but is, in fact, necessary. I count myself as one among the many who believe that the latter is the way to go.

But of course, the dynamics of the class war is masked by the "magical action of consecration (Bourdieu, 99:116)." These are the mechanisms in and through which our actions and dispositions are measured against so-called legitimate standards crafted and implemented by those who have the recognized capacity in exercising such power. This situation in itself is not necessarily and essentially bad or questionable. It is rather an inevitable condition of any given field that is engined by an uneven distribution of power. No field is exempt from this condition on account of a larger system that is based on ownership and dispossession.

Tenure in the academic field is a product of the "authority of consecration (Bourdieu)." It is that process which establishes a boundary that separates those who are chosen by "great academic trials (Bourdieu)." In other words, it institutes an academic elite. I do not want to dwell on the fact that where academic requirements are concerned, my qualifications as a member of this institution by no means fall short. It must be noted, however, that a wager for an engaged pedagogy can combat the exclusionary tendencies of academic elitism. This is the reason why I find my department's non-recommendation of my tenure application questionable.

More appalling is the fact that in the beginning of this semester, I was verbally instructed not to meet my classes for reasons that have yet to be explained to me. As my students would know, I have been attending my classes as I have a contract until May 31 of this year. Pending my department's explanation for not recommending my tenure, which is to say that it has not exercised transparency and due process in its decision, my prospects for teaching in this University after doing so for nearly a decade, remains uncertain.

Security of tenure is not an issue that is unique to my experience. It is definitely an issue that often collides with the most precious value of academic freedom. In making a public statement about my case, I do not intend to target or to assault anyone who had a hand in deciding on the non-recommendation of my application for tenure. In demanding transparency and due process, I seek to understand the circumstances that have brought me in this exhausting condition of uncertainty. I believe this to be very unnecessary in an academic community that values the egalitarian exchange of ideas.

I also want to use this occasion to thank the members of the academic community who have expressed their concern and unwavering support. I am certain that they do so because the stakes in this issue go beyond personal gains. I am thankful that despite this very exhausting and painful process, we are given this chance to reflect upon academic practices and their implications. We reflect not only for the lives of the members of the academic community, but more importantly for what our lives may mean for the larger society.

Many have asked me whether I would still be willing to teach in my department in case of a reversal of its non-recommendation. "Of course" has almost always been my response, for the simple reason that a department or any institution is everybody's and nobody's. Some voices in any given field may be more dominant, creating what Bourdieu rightfully calls as the dominators in the field. But that does not warrant an attempt to exclude the voices that do not carry the same tune. The dominated may be marginalized in many ways, but by no means can practices of forced extinction be justified. But even more than that, I belong to the discipline of Sociology, a discipline that continues to capture minds, young and old, because it invariably seeks to understand. And anyone who seeks to understand would be open to continued engagement. I am glad that certain members of the tenured faculty in the department share this view.

Do my comrades from CONTEND feel revulsion over this issue? Yes, simply because the most liberal of sensibilities have been offended. But have we gained personal enemies over this issue? The answer is resounding No. We cannot afford personal enemies for we already have too powerful class enemies to contend with.

And lastly, does this occasion mark a big day for me personally? No, I think it is just another day in the struggle. But I know fully well that we must give it the same degree of militancy, resolve and hopefulness. Just like those who have stood up against tyrants, those who have toppled down dictatorships and those who continue to form the ranks of a decades-old struggle for social revolution.


Bourdieu, Pierre, (1999). The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Standford, California: Stanford University Press.

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