The President of Silliman has advised the University community, including its thousands of alumni, to uphold the truth, and avoid participating in political campaigns that seek “to win voters through fraud, especially the deliberate spreading of disinformation or misinformation”.
SU President Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann talked about our civic responsibility especially in the coming national and local elections, in her message during the virtual All-University Academic Convocation.
Dr. McCann emphasized Silliman’s “commitment to “truth [and] its discovery, investigation, and dissemination.”
“Even as individuals, we must oppose lies, smear campaigns, and other ways of sowing confusion among voters,” she added.
She urged Sillimanians on social media to capitalize on their expertise in challenging disinformation, and work together to take down websites deliberately engaged in it.
“Members of the University community should use their expertise to promote fair and honest political journalism, consistent with our values,” Dr. McCann said.
She also encouraged Sillimanians to organize, or support, voter information events, at which the public can be given honest and reliable information on the candidates, their parties, and policies.
“Such information campaigns may be the best way to counter those who spread disinformation and misinformation,” said McCann.
President McCann urged members of the SU community to uphold the values of civility, honesty, and service to the common good in all political activities.
“Civility is not just about being nice. It means to uphold basic standards of fairness, mutual respect, and human dignity, even in our dealings with those with whom we disagree,” she said. “The erosion of civility is a sure sign of a weakening in democratic institutions.”
Dr. McCann encouraged the public to exercise the right to suffrage, saying: “You, registered voters, must go out, and vote on election day, and make your vote count.”
She also urged members of the academic community, especially the students, to participate in political activities, and be guided by the motto, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. She said John 14:6 should be “key to how we exercise our civic responsibilities, and not just at election time.”
“The University is pledged to be non-partisan. The administration, its officers, and anyone officially representing the University is not to be directly involved in political campaigning; however, as citizens of the Philippines, everyone should exercise our civic duties and responsibilities. Each is free to participate in political campaigns as individuals, not as representatives of the University — which must remain neutral,” President McCann reminded. (SU OIP)