BOR approves calendar shift; classes to start in August

The Board of Regents (BOR) approved the calendar shift in UP Diliman today, March 28.

By Melissa Luz Lopez

Photos by Demerie Dangla, UP Aperture

Second update: March 29, 12:04 a.m.

The Board of Regents (BOR) approved the calendar shift in UP Diliman today, March 28.

UP LogoThis was despite the motion for reconsideration filed by Student Regent Krista Iris Melgarejo and Staff Regent Anna Razel Ramirez during their February 28 meeting.

Classes will now open in August for academic year 2014-2015 in all UP units. The BOR earlier approved the shift for campuses in Manila, Los Baños, Visayas, Baguio, Mindanao, Cebu, and for the Open University during their February 6 meeting.

The first semester will now be from August to December, while the second semester will be from January to May.

“The decision to shift the academic calendar is part of the continuing efforts of UP to develop into a regional and global university and to maximize the opportunities offered by ASEAN integration and global educational partnerships,” said UP President Alfredo Pascual.

In an earlier statement, Pascual said the shift was proposed for internationalization, which meant syncing UP’s academic calendar with that of universities part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the common goal of an integrated economic community by 2015.

The BOR’s approval is based on the decision of UP Diliman’s University Council, composed of professors, assistant professors and associate professors. In their meeting last Monday, 284 professors voted in favor of the shift, while 164 voted against it. Eight abstained.

A survey conducted by the incoming University Student Council (USC), meanwhile, showed that 67.23 percent, or 1,834 of 2,728 respondents, were in favor of the calendar shift. UP Diliman has 24,188 enrolled students for this semester.

The incoming USC said they “acknowledge the merits” of the shift, but called to postpone its implementation for much-needed preparations, citing academic and logistical concerns, among others.

Student groups opposing the shift, meanwhile, formed the Ctrl + Shift Movement, which listed nine reasons against the calendar shift. The alliance called for the BOR to rescind its earlier decision to approve the implementation of the shift in UP’s seven campuses and to junk the proposal for UP Diliman.

Members of the alliance gathered outside the Executive House early Friday to show their opposition to the calendar shift. The BOR meeting was held at the Executive House, as the administrative building Quezon Hall remains under repairs.

The BOR is the highest decision-making body of the UP system, composed of 12 members. UP President Pascual and Commission on Higher Education Chairman Patricia Licuanan sit as co-chairpersons.

Profs appeal to fellow faculty: vote ‘no’ to calendar shift

A number of UP professors held a press conference in Vinzons Hall Monday to air their concerns against the controversial academic calendar shift. They encouraged members of the faculty to vote ‘no’ against the academic calendar shift in the faculty referendum from Feb. 24 to 26.

By Yvette Morales

A number of UP professors held a press conference in Vinzons Hall Monday to air their concerns against the controversial academic calendar shift.

They encouraged members of the faculty to vote ‘no’ against the academic calendar shift in the faculty referendum from Feb. 24 to 26.

The speakers wore their sablay to show their objection on the academic calendar change from June-March to August-May.

All regular faculty, namely assistant professors, associate professors and full-time professors that make up the University Council (UC) are qualified to vote, while instructors will instead answer a survey from 8:30am to 4pm. Canvassing will commence on Feb. 27.

The referendum, where professors will be asked about their stance regarding the calendar shift, was pushed by the UP administration despite the UC’s vote against the shift, said Prof. Danilo Arao.

Professor Ramon Guillermo, President of the All UP Academic Employees’ Union, said the change is beyond the adjustment of academic terms.

Guillermo quoted someone from UP Los Baños (UPLB) said: “UP is asking them to put out a marketability assessment of subjects.” This targets subjects that can compete in the Asean University Integration (AUN).

Meanwhile in UP Manila (UPM), Guillermo quoted a memorandum saying, “an urgent review and streamlining of the subjects is undertaken in order to fit the AUN quality assurance standards.”

This will lead to reduction of programs to realign the budget for the more competitive subjects, he added.

However, Guillermo noted the importance of diverse subjects that the university offers, although some are not “marketable.”

“We are not a university which looks primarily upon earnings,” he said.

Student Regent Krista Melgarejo, meanwhile, sat alongside the professors and said there was no apt consultation to the students, despite being the biggest stakeholders in the issue.

Melgarejo said the knowledge of some students on the shift remains on the surface level. As the representative of the student body, she wanted to make sure that students see the “underlying effects” of the shift, noting what Guillermo said on programs.

“[B]iglang malalaman natin na magkakaroon pala ng streamlining ng programs. So, going back to the basic question again, para saan at para kanino ba itong sinasabi nating internationalization ng UP administration? (Suddenly, there’s the streamlining of programs. So, going back to the basic question again, for whom and why are we doing this internationalization?),” she said.
Professor Marivic Raquiza of the National Center for Public Administration and Governance said there are “no thorough studies of possible consequences” regarding the implementation of the new calendar.

She also encouraged the continued discussion of the matter, and asked the UP community not to feel “pressured” by the UP administration.

After the conference, Prof. Clod Yambao posed as the Oblation while the speakers wrote messages of disapproval to the calendar shift on his body.

Among the UP units, Diliman remains as the only campus with the June-March academic schedule. Other UP campuses will start the next school year in August-December for the first term and January-May for the second term, as decided by the Board of Regents in their February 6 meeting.

UP Professional Schools building to be named after Henry Sy

The UP Board of Regents (BOR) conferred naming rights to SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) Chairperson and CEO Henry Sy Sr. during its last meeting on February 6 to acknowledge the company’s P400 million donation for the construction of the UP Professional Schools in Taguig.

By Bryan Ezra Gonzales

Updated and corrected Feb. 23, 12 a.m.

The UP Board of Regents (BOR) conferred naming rights to SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) Chairperson and CEO Henry Sy Sr. during its last meeting on February 6 to acknowledge the company’s donation for the construction of the UP Professional Schools in Taguig.

SMIC will donate P400 million for the construction of the new UP building in Bonifacio Global City, which will stand on the 4300-square meter lot donated by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).

The building will be named Henry Sy Sr. Hall and is subject to Republic Act 1059 and the university’s Naming Rights Policy. An appropriate signage will be placed in front of the building.

RA 1059 prohibits the naming of localities, public institutions, and public structures after living persons “except when it is a condition in a donation in favor of the government.”

Under Article 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 of  UP Naming Rights Policy, buildings, structures, streets, parks and other places in the University may be named after someone who has “exceptional or exemplary achievement in his/her field/profession, or significant contribution to the University or the Filipino people” and someone who has a “sterling reputation or could be looked upon as a role model of the youth”.

The BOR also approved the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between UP and SMIC, which guarantees the full turnover of the building to the university.

Under the MOA, the university will have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide SMIC with the Terms of Reference (TOR) and project specifications through the Office of the Vice President for Development (OVPD)/Office of Design and Planning Initiatives (ODPI)
  • Assist SMIC in obtaining permits, consents, licenses, and other government requirements
  • Assist in facilitating the safekeeping, security, and mobilization of construction materials and equipment related to the construction of the facilities
  • Extend all necessary assistance to the donor to avail of tax exemption provided for under Section 25 of RA 9500

Section 25 of RA 9500, also known as the UP Charter of 2008, states that “gifts and donations of real and personal properties of all kinds shall be exempt from the donor’s tax and the same shall be considered as allowable deductions from the gross income of the donor.”

On the other hand, SMIC is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Prepare the Architectural and Engineering Plans (Construction Plans) for the project in accordance with the TOR
  • Submit the Construction Plans to UP for approval
  • Undertake the actual execution of the Construction Plans
  • Provide the required funds for the design and construction of the building and facilities, and the fees that may be imposed on construction
  • With the assistance of UP, secure the necessary permits, consents, and licenses

Upon its completion, the building will house the graduate programs of the School of Statistics, College of Business Administration, College of Engineering, College of Law, and several other academic units, as well as courses offered by the UP Open University.

However, Student Regent Krista Melgarejo stated in her report on the 1295th Board of Regents meeting that while she is not against the expansion of the university’s facilities, the project compromises the university’s public character.

“With the approval of the said MOA, it is with great disappointment that UP has again sold its dignity in exchange for funding and facilities which, in the first place, should have been provided by the national government,” said Melgarejo.

BOR decisions ‘not binding’ due to lack of quorum

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