By Teresa Barre
(Published in TNP Editorial Issue 1, Year 38 on Aug. 6, 2016)
The failure of one of the information systems (IS) of the University of the Philippines (UP) during the UP Los Baños (UPLB) registration last week prompted a series of student protests in various campuses, calling for the junking of eUP.
The eUP project, UP President Alfredo E. Pascual’s P750-million initiative, is a systemwide information integration project.
Under eUP is the Student Academic Information System (SAIS), a data management system that seeks to “integrate and harmonize the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and system across all constituents universities (CUs) of the UP System.”
Students from UP units in Diliman, Los Baños and Visayas called for accountability in the “wastage” of eUP funds and the project’s eventual termination after SAIS failed in UPLB due to “malicious” Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
In Diliman, students held a two-day protest against eUP and other “anti-student” policies such as the Socialized Tuition System and the No Late Payment Policy, culminating in the eUP press conference Aug. 4 at the Quezon Hall.
Newly-selected Student Regent Raoul Manuel emphasized the importance of acknowledging student dissent against the project.
“Yung sinasabi po nating vocal minority? Ninety-one organizations sa UP Los Baños ang nagsasabi na pangit itong nangyayari and thousands of UP students have been rallying against the eUP project and the SAIS,” Manuel said.
The failure of SAIS and the eUP project is evident even without the DoS attack, he added.
Earlier this week, UPLB students marched to the campus’ main library to demand a dialogue with the administration after the failure of SAIS during registration week.
After much commotion before the students managed to enter the building, the dialogue between student leaders and university registrar Myrna Carandang ended with the promise of forwarding student concerns to the administration.
According to eUP Project Director Dr. Jaime Caro, SAIS servers crashed due to a DoS attack whose perpetrators remain unknown. The project’s service provider, ePLDT, recorded more than 34 million hits overwhelming SAIS servers and preventing students from accessing the site during the first day of online enlistment in UPLB on July 29.
In a statement, the UPLB University Student Council (USC) criticized the eUP project as a manifestation of commercialization and called on students to boycott their classes.
“This project under the leadership of President Alfredo E. Pascual (PAEP) is a clear manifestation of commercialization,” the council said. “We call all the students to boycott their classes and stand for a unified call to junk SAIS.”
However, Caro dispelled “rumors” that UP spent P 750 million for Oracle.
“They are saying that we paid Oracle 750 million. That’s a big lie. How much did we spend on Oracle software? We paid P14.1 million for SAIS license and P43.4 million for all systems’ licenses,” Caro said.
He also mentioned spending P 700 million, though he pointed out that P 500 million is “not only for eUP.”
Caro further broke down the costs of the project, saying that they’ve spent around P 350 million for hardware and fiber optics and more than P 90 million for internet service fees.
Further cost breakdowns can be found in the eUP site, documenting what was spent for “core systems,” which amount to around P 135 million.
“This is a big university and we have to run it. The costs of running it is high. But those are expenses we have regardless whether we have eUP or not,” Caro said.
Meanwhile, UP Diliman USC Chairperson Bryle Leaño questioned whether eUP is indeed needed to improve UP’s IS infrastructures, pointing out that SAIS doesn’t solve the issue of insufficient subject slots.
“Bakit pa natin kailangan ng eUP project to improve our infrastructure? Nightmare po ba talaga i-maintain ang homegrown systems? In 10 years of CRS hindi pa na-experience yung ganito,” Leaño said. “Hindi sagot ang SAIS sa problema sa enrollment. Kulang pa rin ang slots at teachers.”
Leaño also questioned why the press conference isn’t held in Los Baños where students are still struggling with registration under SAIS.
Students from UP Visayas also welcomed the first day of classes with protest against SAIS and eUP in time for the SAIS orientations at the UP Visayas Miagao campus, Aug. 1.
In a statement, the UP Visayas College of Management Student Council pointed out the “misallocation” eUP funds instead of using it to cater the needs of the UP community.
“SAIS failed to accommodate the needs of UP as it only offers a lot more complex and confusing interface. The flaws of SAIS continually allows the UP administration to misallocate funds with an irresponsible lack of transparency despite the consistent clamour of the students, instead of allocating it to other projects that would cater to the needs and welfare of the UP stakeholders,” the council said.
SAIS has already been rolled out in UP Manila, Baguio, and Cebu.
Its pilot run in UP Diliman is still pending according to Caro but consultations are currently ongoing. #