Laura Xiomara Morales Martínez is a student of the Bachelor's Degree in Community Education, emphasizing Human Rights, and the student representative to the Academic Council of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional –UPN–. For her, from these positions, students exercise concretely the role of representative democracy since they should read the problems, capabilities, and channels to build with the student body.
Also, it is a challenge assumed by Jose Gregorio Cardenas Peña, student of the Bachelor's Degree in Social Sciences, who was elected as a student representative to the University Superior Council in 2018, recognizing he has had the opportunity to fulfill two fundamental tasks: firstly, leading proposals, opinions, complaints, and debates within the institution in the sessions of this body. Secondly, linked to the external role by UPN, i.e., the relationship with the National Government and the alignment of a vision of peaceful and creative mobilization, promoting the organization and always highlighting the need to finance public higher education to guarantee it as a fundamental right.
"I was sitting at the negotiating table of 2018, the National Strike Committee of 2019, and I have played an important role in every mobilization that University has had at the national level," Cardenas recalls.
It is remarkable the representation is evidenced in the classrooms of future teachers as a sign of commitment to improve educational conditions, not only within the UPN but nationally, becoming a place not only for expression but construction that will benefit ultimately all the community.
The collective work seems to be the greatest contribution of the student representations, since it is only from the perspective of the community's welfare makes sense the effort to analyze the needs that students put forward to their own peers who entrusted them the task of listening to their own voice.
On the other hand, Morales Martínez highlights the students’ representation as a tool to defend university autonomy, the right to have their own government within the University, participating actively in the public policy of the institution. During her representation, she has proposed changes regarding the management of coexistence, involved in round tables and the implementation of the gender mainstreaming plan as a part of the inter-institutional committee where she contributed to the creation of the new Protocol for Prevention, Attention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence at the UPN. She has also managed the required licenses to carry out some mobilizations and aided to develop some events promoting peace and human rights.
Otherwise, Cardenas Peña thinks that students` representations are a victory of the university movement in the world dating back to the Cordoba movement, in which they vindicated the need to have representatives to defend the rights and duties not only in terms of education but educational and economic policy in the country within the collegiate bodies of the institutions.
"I think it is essential the role that a student representative has. If you want to be one, you should submit a program according to a vision of the country and the relevant proposals. Whether elected, he is up to him to execute what he proposed to the students who gave him their support through the democratic vote," the student explains.
"I have noticed a huge student participation not only discussing issues within the University but also outside. UPN is recognized for its mobilization, always we are defending education and supporting the different sectors. Although it is necessary to encourage more people to assume leadership and present themselves for representation", Jose Gregorio says.
On the other hand, Morales Martínez assures that although both student representations within the collegiate bodies –Superior Council and Academic Council– are very important, they should go hand in hand with the
Department and Faculty representations, i.e., equally relevant positions that form a team that from her perspective may be diverse but must also be compatible.
Both Morales Martínez and Cardenas Peña agree it is necessary for students to continue being involved actively in student representations as a mechanism to defend higher education. Invitation is on the table and those interested in assuming these leadership positions may sign up until April 22.
For more information about the electoral process, visit Elections and Appointments - Election of students` representatives to different councils 2021-2023