By Bryan Ezra Gonzales
The Board of Regents’ (BOR) approval of the amendments to the UP Student Code was not binding due to lack of quorum, according to the Staff Regent.
In a phone interview, Regent Anna Razel Ramirez said BOR will discuss its decisions again in its next meeting, as relayed by the University Secretary.
On Nov. 28, the BOR amended certain parts of the UP System Code, focusing on the revisions on the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).
Of the 11 members of the Board of Regents, only five were present: Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, UP President Alfredo Pascual, Appointed Regent Magdaleno Albarracin, Jr., Faculty Regent Lourdes Abadingo and Staff Regent Anna Razel Ramirez.
Student Regent Krista Iris Melgarejo was not able to attend the meeting dueto an illness. Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Higher Education Senator Pia Cayetano, Alumni Regent Ponciano Rivera, Jr., Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, and Appointed Regent Gizela Gonzalez-Montinola were also absent.
The chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education Rep. Roman Romulo sent his secretary to attend the meeting on his behalf, despite calling the Board to confirm his attendance before the meeting.
The agenda of the meeting included Pascual’s proposed STFAP reforms, amendments to Articles 330, 430 and 431 of the Revised University Code, and a laboratory fee increase in the College of Engineering.
Some of Pascual’s proposed reforms include reducing the number of pages for STFAP application, increasing the benefits for students from lower brackets, adjustments in the cut-off for each bracket and the creation of safeguards to prevent dishonesty among applicants.
Staff Regent Ramirez and Faculty Regent Abadingo moved to defer all decisions on student issues since the quorum was not met and the Student Regent was absent.
The board assigned Melgarejo to discuss her position paper on the proposals presented during the BOR meeting last October.
Instead, Ramirez and Abadingo proposed that the Board discuss pending memoranda and the benefits to be received by students affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
Licuanan, who was also the presiding officer, moved to have an approval on the meeting’s agenda despite the lack of quorum. This was supposed to be in time for the next academic year, Ramirez said.
Ramirez added that Pascual persisted in having his proposed STFAP reforms approved, claiming that a consultation was already conducted among the constituents and that discussions on the reforms were already delayed in past meetings.
Despite Licuanan’s motion, no voting occurred during the meeting.
Meanwhile, Student Regent Melgarejo expressed her dismay on the proceedings of the recent BOR meeting. She described the decisions pushed in the meeting as “anti-poor, and anti-student.”
Melgarejo explained that the proposed STFAP reforms and amendments to the Revised University Code prolong the problem currently faced by students instead of lowering the high cost of education in UP.
“Nakakagalit talaga yung nangyari. Di nakapag-establish ng quorum. Yung hamon sa ating mga estudyante ay tumindig at lumaban. Di nirespeto ang student representation (It is really infuriating. There is no quorum. The challenge to our students is to stand up and fight. The BOR did not respect student representation),” she said.
The BOR did not discuss the proposal preventing freshmen to join organizations, fraternities and sororities. The issue on renaming of the UP School of Business Administration to Virata School of Business was not included in the agenda because the Board did not receive a formal report from UPD, Ramirez said.
Pres. Pascual will be holding a dialogue with the University Student Council tomorrow to address student concerns with the BOR’s decisions. – With reports from Jinky Cabildo