Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Open Letter for the Rector of PETRONAS University of Technology

DISCLAIMER:
THIS OPEN LETTER IS MY OWN OPINION, FROM MY OWN POINT OF VIEW OF LOOKING AT THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IN UTP. IT DOES NOT REPRESENT UTP STUDENTS AS A WHOLE, NEITHER IT TRIES TO REPRESENT THEM. SOME MIGHT NOT AGREE, SOME MIGHT, BUT I BELIEVE THOSE WHO LIVED DURING THE TRADITIONAL LEGACY OF UTPCHAT AND THOSE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY ONCE SURROUNDING UTPCHAT AND GRAPEVINE WOULD AGREE TO SOME, IF NOT ALL, OF MY POINTS BELOW.

Dear Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Haji Kasim,

I am Mohd Izhar Firdaus Ismail (ID 7857), an ICT student in UTP from batch Jan2005, and also one of the active UTPchat IRCOperators. I am writing this because I feel like UTP action of forcing UTPchat to it knees several semesters ago is giving a bad impact on community life in UTP. A bad impact which caused UTP to waste the potential of the (so-called) 'cream de la cream' which UTP have grabbed early after their SPM examination.

UTPchat IRC Network, existed originally around more than 10 years ago, is an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network for UTP students to socialize, do activities, as a community environment, place of discussions , and many more. We existed inofficially in the UTP network, yet was known by basically all UTP students and to some extends, staffs. The IRC network flourished as a place where UTP students meet each other, have fun, explore possibilities, voice opinions, share informations, bring up talents, and much more. UTPchat, indirectly contributes to the community spirit of which previous UTP graduates have. The spirit of caring each other, spirit of protecting what they believe is right, spirit of being a part and contributing to a community.

However, a change on 2005 in UTP network infrastructure, which separated the 5 villages in UTP to 5 separate networks, and an unexpected incident which relates to a stupidity of one of UTP's own student, caused UTPchat to face problem from UTP Management due to false accusation from those who don't understand the technical details behind the infrastructure. We faced trouble of keeping our infrastructure intact from the seemingly unstoppable mental and technical attack from UTP managements, thus lead to UTPchat's decline from the student's hearts.

The downfall of UTPchat , followed by the downfall of Grapevine, a LAN based discussion board indirectly affect the UTP students, their ability to voice their opinions truly from their hearts, in term of their ability to live as a community which care each other because they care. UTP students, indirectly became a group of people who only care for themselves, and do stuff for rewards/accreditation/certificate rather than doing stuff because they love doing it. This can be reflected by the decline of informal activities by students, the reduction of events/movements/groups in UTP which values creativity-building and community building, and the worst, UTP students no longer bother to protect their rights - which can be greatly reflected from the lack of interest for MPPUTP, lack of interest to try to make a change, lack of interest to voice their opinions. I believe that these downfall of other community movements in UTP was indirectly affected from the downfall of the medium where they communicate and voice their thoughts.

UTP students now, are more like a bunch of heartless robots, who come to UTP, simply for studying, to get their degree. They joined events because they wanted certificates, because they wanted to put those in their resume. We have lost the people who do stuff because they love it, do stuff because they care about it, do stuff because of pure interest without bothering for certificates, without bothering for accreditation, etc. UTP students now, they simply do whatever they have been told, without really questioning whether the decision are really good for them or not. They have lost their ability to voice out their opinions, they have lost their ability to fight, they have lost their ability to stand up and be true to themselves. The culture of previous UTP students, is just not there.

I remember that several years ago, during my junior days, UTP was such a fun place to be. Students from different batch, different courses, different races, different nation, mix with each other and befriend each other as equals. It was easy during that time to share thoughts and information with other friends. I miss the time when student are loud in declaring their opinions, their views about things, their suggestions. I miss the time when there exist a communication medium and a bond between students and other UTP residents through the network. I miss the time when UTP was filled with people who I can say that they are respectable people. I miss the time where there are a lot of creative thinker community in UTP, people who explores and create new ideas and stuff regardless what public says about them, people who are willing to try because of pure interest rather than being forced.

What happened to UTP motto of creating so called 'Well-Rounded Students'?. Is that motto is simply a way to get students to come in and study in UTP and make them slaves (read: robots) who simply follow what their master told them to do?. Or does the definition of 'Well-Rounded' for the UTP Management means, people who spend more time on studying to get 4.0 CGPA? people who are obedient to orders? people who can be easily controlled? people who doesnt fight for their rights? people who only know what their course and events they joined taught them and can't do anything else? people who do things for rewards not because they really want to do it? Does getting 4.0 really matters if a student is only good academically but can't really apply what they have learn for the betterment of the nation? Reminds me of a poem by Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken. How willing are us to go against the flow and make a change?.

Sir, I'm asking you, "Is that what you want it to be?". If yes, so be it. There are still 2 or 3 batch of students from the old legacy in UTP, the generations who still carry the spirit of community from our seniors, and we are slowly reducing in number every semester. The new students, from my observations, are more interested in studying, excel in university's co-curriculum, rather than living as a community. Newer students mostly match my description of a bunch of robots, or, more likely, a bunch of obedient high school students, NOT university students who are adventurous to explore more in what they learn and louder to voice their opinions. The culture of previous UTP graduates are just not there in their hearts. Once these 2 or 3 batch of students graduated, I'm afraid thats the end, both for UTPchat and wholeness of UTP graduates.

Yes, I know posting this kind of thing is bad for UTP reputation and might be bad for me too. But something need to be done. Something need to change. Sitting behind the scene , complaining, ranting and watching the communities die won't get us to anywhere. A university is a place where students learn to utilize their potential, a place for students to develop their creativity beyond what being taught in class, beyond the academic perspective. There exist people with lots of talent and potential in UTP, but their potential got limited due to the restrictions put on them.

There are still a lot of points I wanted to raise to you sir, but they are more in the technical term rather than the points above which relates to 'soft' values of UTP students. So, I would keep those for later. If this letter somehow offended the some of the readers due to my sharp words, I am sorry for that.

Regards.
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