Professor Dato’ Dr. Omar Osman
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Often times, the new batch of students have been reminded of their underlying responsibility at the university, which is to learn, learn and learn. Learning involves numerous processes that need to be understood and done correctly to achieve the desired impact during the duration of study in the university.
It needs to begin with learning on how to adapt to the set environment. Learning to be independent in daily interactions and no longer being under familial and parental pamperings, and able to be self-sustaining using the best means possible.
Learning to make wise judgements and decisions when looking for friends and carrying out daily activities. Learning to deliberate on what is beneficial and what is detrimental. Learning to appreciate others. Learning on becoming an adult full of maturity and not easily influenced by others through dogma, beliefs and trust, what more when it is beyond the norms and betterment of others.
Within the hostel boundaries for example, learn to create the spirit of giving and receiving, respecting and to be respected and furthermore learning to appreciate what has been accorded. Learn to understand and act in total harmony. Learn to accept the diversity in languages, cultures, religious beliefs and of many others, and respect all those as being reasons for celebration, for they are assets to be used for self-development in the future. Learn to build communication networks and surely as well, to learn to communicate.
In the lecture rooms and laboratories, learn to value the knowledge gained. Learn to explore and question endlessly in searching for the truth through facts and data. Learn to be amazed with the knowledge found in the hearts of men, which is but a fraction of the secrets in life created by God, as God had said that what is learnt is merely a drop of water from the vast ocean.
Being of equal importance is to learn about the conducts of learned men who have high regards for their teachers, scholars, intellects and the high dignity of those referred to as teachers or lecturers or even as facilitators, who help us to understand, to be aware, to generate and even to digest knowledge to explore it the farthest possible.
Learn to establish scholarly networks for the future in building the nation and its citizens. As a student, a learner and a graduate, learn to continue being someone who always has a thirst for knowledge and ultimately having the realisation that in life, we can only make decisions based on what we know and heard, with the support of distinct and clear evidence.
This is the learning process that we should value, retain and uphold. In fact, when we see someone goes against the rules and regulations of the university, committing acts beyond the scope of integrity and causing inconveniences and limiting freedom, in actuality it is also a part of the learning process that we all go through. We learn not to repeat the same mistake, to respect the institution with its rules and regulations in place, which are meant to educate us for the well-being and in the interest of the general society.
The basic principle of laws and regulations would be, the interest and well-being of the public is given priority over personal interests, what more when it leads to hardships, difficulties and in conflict with the existing norms, the true nature of man’s existence and the principle of conciliation as well as the peaceful nature of the country and society.
Just as important is, students need to learn to be a person of integrity and having accountability in any undertaking. Not to point fingers and blaming others if the choices leading to the actions were self-made, by following naive thoughts and attitude, or being stubborn and refusing to understand the rules and norms long agreed upon.
These are the principles that need to be held by the students, here or anywhere else, of which the responsibility and trust put upon them would be to learn, learn and learn. If the convention and principle could be adhered to, there would be numerous benefits and advantages obtained, which would contribute to the process of ‘growing up’ and achieving ‘maturity’.
The students would be able to develop their self-confidence to bravely face and explore the outside world. This is what it means to be in a Tower of Knowledge within a period of three to four years. Learn and continue to learn to be an individual of firm and great stature to face the challenges of the future.
What has been said can be summed up in this classic poem by the world-renowned writer Rudyard Kipling (1943):
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)
Hold on to the noble values currently practised and to continuously internalise our motto, “We Lead” and “Driving Excellence” in upholding one’s own repute, the name of the family and the University.
* Adapted from the speech made at the new students reception ceremony (Majlis Sambutan Siswa Lestari) 2015/2016 at the USM Health Campus on Thursday, 3 September 2015.