BACK in the Old Testament, God gave Moses the “Ten Commandments” on Mt. Sinai set on two stone tablets.

Then came Jesus Christ, who left us with two simple rules: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But times have changed indeed, because “we have more than 35 million laws now trying to enforce them,” Earl Wilson, an American newspaper columnist would say.

We have so many laws that implementing them in turn becomes the problem. We have to trouble ourselves further with keeping so many policies that have become superfluous and cumbersome.

I have in my mind the Office for Student Affairs’ (OSA) order that students should always wear their ID by strap or pin before being allowed to enter the newly-established Tan Yan Kee Student Center. Despite having the digital ID, I was refused entry twice to the Student Center for not following that rule. The irony is, non-Thomasians are allowed to sign in and enter while bona fide Thomasians are not.

Even if the Varsitarian and the OSA had settled this issue, I still do not get how this policy will secure students as the OSA claims. It’s as if the students are the threat to security that they need to tag themselves always with ID. In other buildings, it suffices that the student presents his ID. No need to strap or pin it always, lest it gets lost elsewhere and you go through the hassle of filing an affidavit of loss, etc, etc.

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Through the glass, an image

While I respect the OSA’s effort to prevent misdemeanors, this policy does not really guarantee a student’s security. They should rather trouble themselves with students’ real needs which should be the issue. I’ve noticed that the policy has focused so much on wearing the ID that the guards have been letting in almost anyone in the building as long as he has the ID lace or pin.

Instead of helping the guards seize civilians who may possibly pose as UST students, the policy has turned its arms on Thomasians who have basically paid for their right to enter University buildings. The guards in the Center are told not to acknowledge the digital ID, which is enough to validly identify the bona fide UST student. Ironically, the Student Center has become the most inaccessible building for students at UST. A student otherwise not ordered by his college dean to wear the ID at all times has to do so in the Center.

What if some of the people entering the building might be bearing a fake ID? I read a report from The Guidon, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Manila, on a 19-year-old student caught in June last year sporting a fake Ateneo ID.

The point is that the straps and pins are useless ornaments if prioritized over card-holder identification.

Should we implement by the letter the principle that the “ID should be worn at all times within the University premises,” then everyone, including players at the gym, students at the field and the church, and administrators and faculty whose IDs bear the same notice must be asked to wear their IDs. After all, the notice on the ID cards of faculty and personnel similarly bears it all to OSA when they are not even students.

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'Dialogue of the heart'

More importantly, should these policies interfere with the greater right of the students to education and the services that they have paid for? Do such policies improve the output of any student organization? I bet not.

Clearly, all of this will be settled if the ID scanner is finally installed in the Student Center. A machine never lies. And definitely it is a more effective scheme at determining the identity of students. It beats identifying students by checking out if they wear strap or pin.

(Send us your comments, suggestions and opinions at the varsitar@yahoo.com or visit us at our new office at Rm. 105 of the Tan Yan Kee Student Center. Your views are welcomed.)

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