Written by: John Nieve

In their typical college life, students of the Ateneo de Davao University follow a routine that has been around for many years now.

Go to school, attend your classes, support your student organization, eat your meals on time, and if they feel like it, they go home. This common routine has always been the system for most students of the university. But what happens when that routine ends? Will the routine of the present become a thing of the past? And thus, a new academic year comes everything new such as new friends, new gadgets, new subjects, even new vending machines.

However, this academic year shows a more different kind of new.  We have new neighbors, neighbours who are no other than the Ateneo Senior High School (SHS).

The arrival of our new neighbors gave many of us the thought that we are ready for changes, that we are ready to accept a new status quo. But to our disappointment, the usual expectations have not become reality. One week after the start of the academic year, a torrent of complaints and rants from college students have reached social media and gossip that became instant talks of the day.

It turned an ever neutral student population and even some student leaders and organizations to part time radicals. This is not the usual coming-of-age ceremony that 1st Year college students receive from their upper classmen in the higher years.

This time, the comments, complaints, and gossip escalated from a personal level to a school wide level such as the total cession of Finster Hall as the SHS’s main building which further increased the amount of night classes for the college students.

And yet, the most heated battle came from a dispute between the SHS and the student clubs and organizations of the colleges on the use of the club rooms. The student clubs and organizations are one of the backbones of the extra-curricular activities in the university. They formulate plans and implement projects that aim to cater to the interests of their members as well as advancing the vision and mission of the university.

In short, these student clubs and organizations are the representatives of the united interests of students in a particular program or course. And yet, with the SHS also having their own student clubs and organizations, space has become an issue and finding available rooms have become a problem. The contention of both sides breeds certain conflict in a way that the act of cooperating was replaced by the act of seizing.

To see months of planning and organizing instantly changed and activities delayed and moved, the college student clubs and organizations were thrown into chaos. The entry of the SHS was anticipated yet, gravely underestimated. We now think of them as a nuisance and a threat, the neighbor turned invader. Regardless, what reaction is expected of us college students?

Must we instantly reject the idea of diplomacy? Must we enrage the beast within before we let the man inside speak his mind? One thing is certain. Fighting fire with fire is not the solution. Compromise must occur. Bridges must be made. Communication must be paramount. These are the demands so demanded by the situation.

The students of SHS and colleges must come to an agreement as a show of unity that no divide can break what is inherently common between the two: the ideal of being an Atenean.