As the curtain of Ramadhan falls down, and the victory of Syawal lights up, almost all campuses in
It is my utmost concern to observe, analyze and provide alternative solutions on the current problems that has plaguing the campus politics in
I will narrow down my view on this matter specifically towards my very own Ivory Tower, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), alas it can also be considered and applied to other campuses which share the same problem as ours.
Before we analyze, let us review some basic premises of UTP:
*Structure of UTP
Based on my observation in the last 4 years, the core group of people that really uphold the very foundation of UTP can be classified into three groups:
3) Students ( undergraduate/post-graduate)
By identifying, segregating the roles and the nature of this group of people, we can find a better common ground and qualities that can be shared among each other.
*Environment of UTP
What I meant by environment here must not be understood as merely physical boundary of the campus but more focus upon the abstract notion of the reality that exist in campus itself. Based on my observation, the reality of UTP environment can be seen as:
1) Apolitical based campus politics
2) Purely academic based university which specialized in technical science
3) Students are docile-yet-rebellious in nature.
These 3 criteria are being derived based on my own observation and I am sure we can add more of the details later if we discuss further.
From these classification which I think can be elaborated further upon the changing circumstances that happen inside the campus, I have identified few major problems/challenges that need to be addressed by upcoming UTP leaders.
1) Westernization of thoughts
Judging on the notion above surely this topic can never be addressed in its complete manner at this period of time as we are all aware that the problem of westernization is not only confined inside UTP campus as the nature of problem is a civilizational one.
Nonetheless, as a university student, one must be concern and critical enough to evaluate the influence and impact of these thoughts upon the livelihood of the students, lecturers, and the management members.
First and foremost, I am not xenophobic to the Westerners. When I defined ‘westernization’ it means the cultural, and philosophical encroachment that has been steadily on the rise among the students and other members of UTP. And this problem merely an abstract one and lies discretely inside the mind of the subjects (i.e students, lecturers, management).
To understand this problem carefully, one must refer to various books, journals and articles that have been nicely kept in the library. Further discussions have to be made by the upcoming student leaders with fellow lecturers who share the same concern as ours.
We can see clearly some of the side effects (which means, not the root cause) of the westernization of thoughts in this few examples and situations:
- Ethics ( Adab) of students with lecturers
- Excessive entertainment based lifestyle which leads to a hedonistic one.
As usual thins thing can be elaborated further if we think seriously.
2) The Corporatization of University
This is one big problem currently being faced by almost all universities in the world today. The boundary of knowledge, wisdom and information has been blurred in this era by the introduction of slogans like ‘globalization’, ‘modernization’ and ‘development’ into the discourse of vision and mission of a university.
In UTP case, I have seen how the university management, lecturers and the students got confuse in defining the nature and the role of knowledge, university and other key concepts that are central to the foundation of a 'University'.
One of the best examples to describe the corporatization of university is by introducing Key Performance Indicator (KPI) among the lecturers. I have no qualm when this thing being implemented upon the management people as the nature of their job is a pragmatic one (i.e writing report, organizing event etc.).
But not to the lecturers who plays a big role in transmitting knowledge from God to the students.
One of the great Muslim scholar of the past by the name of Imam Al-Zarnuji in his book Taalim al-Muta’alim (Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning) had stressed upon the role of teachers (i.e lecturers) are like the pipelines that connect the Giver of Knowledge (God ) and to the receiver of Knowledge (students). If the pipelines are rusty then the knowledge will not be flowing easily to the students or perhaps the knowledge that they have received will be devoid from values that could shaped the student so be a better human being.
Thus, the importance of intention (niat) between the students and lecturers must be clear. If one learns for the sake of CGPA then he/she will only memorize the knowledge for the sake of the exams and will never think the relation of knowledge that he/she has with the society and ultimately with God the All Knowing.
The problem of KPI can be diagnosed in various angle but the most important one is in its philosophical context.
Knowledge is not value free. It will never be.
If a chemical engineer creates a product he/she must understand the impact of his/her product upon the society in long/short term manner, and the impact of the product upon the socio-economic condition of mankind as a whole.
How could a nuclear scientist who creates an atomic bomb declare his invention free from values when on the very next day, one of his/her atomic bomb product kills off hundreds of innocent people?
The question is not merely about who use the bomb but also why the bomb is being created for that user in the first place!If you know Hitler is going to slaughter the Jews with chemicals why on earth the scientist participate in the project?
So by having KPI, one will need to adhere explicitly with its “bases” and “stretches” without ever thinking the BIG PICTURE of the WH questions in the first place.
Let us give an example about Engineering Economy. A lecturer who adhere to certain goals of KPIs will need to follow strictly (or should I call chasing?) the direction of the process. Thus, he/she will become a mechanized lecturer who teaches the students for the sake of completing his/her KPIs!
In order to curb this, we must ask the WH questions. Maybe some of it could be:
1) Why Engineering Economic needs to be taught to the students? Is it due to university requirement only or there is a bigger problem that these students need to solve once they have graduated from this place?
2) How are we going to improve the current practices of engineering economic that being widely used in the industry? Can we provide new paradigm of economic that could we integrate the concept of sustainable development within its lesson?
And recently this KPI-styled method has been incorporated into the academic life of UTP students in the name of Consequence Management. I am not sure whether the university and the sponsors have consulted any educationist before implementing this mechanism. I found it rather undemocratic and unfair towards the students who they themselves have not been given any chances to debate on this matter in the first place.
This goes back to the definition and the purpose of university. Why a university should exist in the first place? Is it for the sake of producing more competent worker or producing a truly great human being who could also be a competent worker in the same time? There are huge differences between producing a Chemical Engineering graduate alone than producing a Great Human being who holds a degree in Chemical Engineering. You can see the difference in focus and purpose between these two examples and of course this will lead to a different methodology, pedagogy etc. in managing the educational process of the university.
A university, historically was not a place to produce technical skills graduate. Rather it was a place to produce mind that could produce wonders in various discipline in life.
A university is a place to reflect the purpose and the meaning of life. That was how
I will relate this problem with the fourth problem below.
3) Disintegration of campus society
This problem must not to be blamed solely upon the international students because as locals, be it students, lecturers and the managements, our duty is to bridge the differences between our culture and theirs too. We do not ask them to assimilate but only to adapt.
We can also see the rise of individualism among the UTP students be it in academic or social field. This problem has made campus life a very dull one thus making each of the students retreat to their very own confinement: playing video games, watching movies or becoming love birds.
Their sense of belonging towards the campus society revolves around academic matters and on basis of profitability in their life as student in UTP. Very small number of students who willing to risk themselves academically to participate in sudent activism.
More less the activities in UTP are more about fulfilling personal interest that has very little to do with the ‘
So this individualistic environment must come to halt ASAP. We need to be more like the public university where the community is strong and lively. They are not perfect either but at least their life does relate back with the bigger society outside as various kind of people interact with the university formally or informally.
This mad rat race for 4 flat GPA/CGPA must be abandon. Instead let us nurture the love of learning among the students and hopefully they will learn not for the sake of Consequence Management but due to love of knowledge that define us a human being and our close knit relationship with nature and the omnipotence God. Engineering is more than just equations, its about solving problems of humanity at large.
4) Patriotism/ Loyalty.
It is no longer a secret among the oil and gas family members (including us the undergraduate) regarding the brain drain syndrome that occurred among the Malaysians especially. We know how big the numbers of people who had left, going to leave and planning to leave our very own oil and gas company for various reasons to a greener pasture overseas. Our engineers are being pinching like hot cakes by the overseas company.
I just can’t imagine the after effect of this problem when in future, the bulk of the employee of our national oil company would be from UTP. Definitely in a large organization where most of its members came from the same background, they will subconsciously portray the same culture and understanding in the organization itself.
How they view happiness, success, progress and loyalty can be pre-determined as early as their life in university. This is the place where a youth tries to shape his idealism of his life.
For a mere egocentric brainy student, he/she does not careless about the organization except the number of ‘0’ that appears on his/her pay check. They will never match the zeal and the loyalty of the Young Turks who start humbly with only RM 10 million that was given by the late Tun Razak.
These Young Turks (which includes my mum and dad) have different worldview when it comes to their career in this oil and gas industry. Their happiness is not merely being restricted on the numbers of ‘0’ on their pay check rather they see themselves as the vanguard of our nation’s resources. This old group of professional is very humble and strictly loyal to the nation.
Do you think, the Generation Y of UTPians can match their characteristic or even perhaps their contribution towards the nation?
I can bet the Human Resource Management of our national oil company can save a lot of money for the training purposes of their future employees that came from UTP if the student leaders, lecturers and the management have already equipped them with the right kind of attitude, vision, life-long learning as well nurturing the right world view that caters the understanding of very important concept such as the meaning of true happiness, success and the ultimate purpose of life.
I can see that by having Consequence Management, this goal will be harder to attain as the demand of the Consequence Management relies heavily on the digits of the students CGPA.
Consequence Management and KPIs can never ever and ever measure sincerity, loyalty,patriotism, and other hidden qualities that the students, lecturers and management people have inside them. I believe the older generation of engineers in our national oil companies echoes this same view, as during their time the true goal is not about their personal success only, but rather for the sake of our nation’ survival too.
It is a very big and futuristic issue but yet it is very relevant to ponder upon.
The Way Forward
So to all budding candidates of Pilihan Raya Kampus 2008/2009 you must think in this context IF you want to see some radical changes inside our campus and perhaps in the future of our country.
We have seen the same old model in managing and leading the students organization over these years that end up producing very little or nothing at all in radically change our campus life (except parking spaces and other material needs).
I maybe an idealist but that is the basis of every grand success that humanity has ever achieved. Every scientific advancement and technological wonder starts with this symbol:
The success that we have today starts with some sort of philosophical foundation and what I have outlined above basically tells you the same story albeit in a smaller context of our campus life.
Personally if you asked me “how am I going to change UTP?”
I would say in our limited capacity, how about we start to build a vibrant knowledge-driven intellectual culture in our beautiful campus of Tronoh.
Why is that? Because I think this is the thing where everybody can goes along whether you are a student, lecturer or management people or be it you are locals or international students.
Knowledge is the central character of a life in a university. Knowledge has been embraced by all civilizations and can transcend the period of time and space. Knowledge is the key to find the real purpose of life which can govern our purpose of being a student, lecturer or management people in UTP. This is the common ground I have been talking about all this while. We can set our differences apart and build our trust and vision upon the love of knowledge that could enlighten us with wisdom!
It does not need any budget approval from the Student Support Services Department (although a proposal might helps) and what we need is our inquisitive mind as well few books that we can borrow freely from our nice-looking-empty-seated library.
Only that for a starts.
UTP student leaders need to have skill to dissect and sort out the REAL ISSUES from the petty ones.
If you think like what our politicians do, of course your plan will only last about 2 semesters. How about the next-President of MPP try to think like our Chancellor? Yes, no body can denies that Tun Mahathir is a man of vision. Why can’t we, or specifically the upcoming student leaders of UTP think like him in building a legacy worth to be inherited by our juniors later on?
I have tried my best in my stint as Vice President of Rakan Muda UTP to start this thing last year. Due to unforeseen circumstances that might jeopardize the stability and survivality of the club, I can’t do more than what I have done earlier and also due to the time constraint as currently I’m stuck in level 57 in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. Alas I have never give up in building this dream in UTP.
Petty issues like parking spaces, events management, and bla..bla..bla can be delegated 100% to the juniors in Rakan Exco. Give them chance to shine so that they can easily fill into your shoes later on.
The seniors must take heed and start building the foundation of intellectual progress inside our campus. Once we lay the proper foundation, the culture will grow steadily until it becomes a tremendous phenomenon just like how crazy Euphonious, DOTA and Prison Break has engulfed the mind of UTPians all this while. It has been proven that this kind of knowledge culture has thrived well in
Start somewhere with small ideas. You will see it being nurtured by the Almighty if you do it sincerely no matter what people says or ridicules you.
Remember the experience of how Prophet Muhammand uprooted the jahiliyah tradition? Everybody think it was an impossible act, yet you can see now how big the success that started from a small, but a very defining revolution 1500 years ago.
It all started with the changing of mindset, the worldview of the Arabs.
It is not about who controls the political realm, it is about giving the correct meaning in its proper places of their life here and in the hereafter!
It takes 700 years for
Ok, my intention is only to stimulate your mind to think. The mechanism on how to do it can be done by your own or from personal consultation with fellow lecturers, ustaz or any other seniors who are inclined toward this project.
For further reference regarding this matter, you can read some of my views here.
Till then hope this coming PRK will be a different one. All the best!
Wan Ahmad Fayhsal a.k.a Sosialis Kanan a.k.a Rausyanfikir,
Going to Final Year,
P/S: Sorry for the grammar. I am writing this in a rush since I have few articles that need to be finished.