By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
The student regent is the sole student representative in the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest governing body of the University. Its office has not only served as a link for communication between the students and the board on policies and decisions affecting them, but has also spoken for other sectors in the University.
Although students comprise the majority of the University’s population, the original UP Charter did not provide for student representation in the BOR. 1970 saw the first recorded time a student (USC chairperson Fernando Barican) sat in the BOR, though as a non-voting observer.
Two years later the UP Charter was amended to include an SR in the BOR. However, none arose during the remaining term of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, who signed the amending proclamation. Former UP President (now Senator) Edgardo Angara proposed choosing an interim SR in 1983 and 1984. Yet it only became a reality in 1987 when then USC Chair (now also Senator) Francis Pangilinan was appointed to a regular voting post in the BOR.
Because no rules were initially formed for direct student selection of the SR, the first ten regents were nominated by the UP President. By 1997, the UP System Student Councils (now the General Assembly of Student Councils or GASC) drafted the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS). Every SR since then has gone through the procedures outlined in the code.
From college to system
According to the CRSRS, any Filipino student currently enrolled in the university at the time of nomination who has an accumulated residency of at least one year including periods of residency and/or leave of absence and has a track record reflective of his/her commitment to serve the studentry may be nominated for SR.
The selection process begins with a nomination at the college level. Should a student council decide to nominate a candidate to the unit level after deliberations, a convocation then picks a nominee to elevate to the system-wide level.
At the system-wide assembly, the autonomous units or AUs in Baguio, Diliman, Los Baños, Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao each have two votes, while the regional units or RUs in San Fernando, Cebu, Tacloban, and Palo have one vote each.
The CRSRS has been amended six times since its initial drafting. At times, proposed amendments to the code have raised controversy. Two such proposals, both from UP Diliman student councils, were junked by the October 2007 assembly.
The first by the School of Economics Student Council sought to add a minimum academic requirement for SR candidates. The other by the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council proposed to remove the role of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP) from the SR selection process. The KASAMA sa UP is an alliance of student councils in the UP system tasked to disseminate information about the selection process.
Issues and contentions
In voicing out student sentiments, the SR has fought against “anti-student” policies. In December 2006, SR Raffy Jones Sanchez led protests against the eventually approved proposal to increase the 2007 tuition fees. On the negative outcome of the increase, the succeeding SR James Mark Terry Ridon recently presented a policy review paper to the BOR.
However, the SR office is not without flaws. An infamous case of corruption in the OSR happened in 2000 when Hannah Eunice Seraña pocketed P15 million given to her for the renovation of Vinzons Hall.
The office has not escaped the issue of “Diliman-centrism,” which supposedly goes against the OSR’s aim to represent the whole UP studentry. Only six of the 20 SRs came from units other than Diliman.
Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS)
UP Charter and subsequent amendments (Presidential Decree No. 58 and Executive Order No. 204)
Office of the Student Regent
Office of the Secretary of the University
Minutes of the 1065th BOR meeting, Feb. 23, 1985
Minutes of the 1138th BOR meeting, Dec. 17, 1999
Palatino, Mong. “The UP Student Council during the storm” and “The heady 80s.” Retrieved 11 November 2007 from http://www.mongpalatino.motime.com/archive/2006-04.htm.