Recent postponement of Students’ Representative Council (SRC) election and SRC Townhall organized after that has bring a new discussion among IIUM students; the discussion of university autonomy.

There seems to be discrepancy among students, university management, and government even regarding the most essential element of autonomy; its definition.

A university of course wants power to govern itself, without outside intervention. This includes governing its day-to-day operation, managing its admission, curriculum, and funds.

But, as universities are heavily depended on public funds, the government would also want certain extent of jurisdiction over universities, especially when it comes to political and social considerations.

And us, students, of course want to be part of the university decision-making. We want ourselves, or representatives that we choose, to determine the direction our university is taking. We want our opinion to be heard and taken into account.

But, despite these differences, I believe on several grounds, we can stand in agreement. We agree that allowing students to run our own election is autonomy. We agree that including students’ representative as part of the Senate is autonomy. We agree that empowering students’ parliament by giving them more decision-making power is autonomy. Therefore, we should work on the common grounds that we have.

But, what if the election that we organize is not completely free and fair? What if our students’ parliament decided to do something against our university’s philosophy of establishment? What if our representatives in the Senate only represent certain interest groups, not all students?

Because of this, I believe students’ autonomy should be accompanied by accountability; when we are given power to decide, we should decide by considering all parties that will be affected by our decision. By implication, we are responsible and answerable to our decisions.Because with autonomy, we are the decision makers.

For this purpose, to gain autonomy, we should not only fight for it, but more importantly prepare for it. Prepare to consider factors we never thought of before. Prepare to ponder opinions we never reflected upon before. We need to think big; bigger than we are thinking now. In being autonomous, our decisions should uphold IIUM’s philosophy of knowledge; understanding of iqra, acceptance of tawhid, and the university’s Islamic and international character.

Are we prepared for this? I believe if we do not start taking actions, and lead, we will never be prepared. I believe that students are not leaders of tomorrow. Instead, students are leaders of TODAY. We lead our younger generations, we lead our comrades, and we lead alongside the national leaders. I believe autonomy starts in us, and with us.

Firzan Haniff,
A student preparing for autonomy.



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