By Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco

The university student council (USC) debate forum held at the College of Mass Communication on Wednesday missed one of the most important student issues, according to former university student council (USC) vice-chairperson Airah Cadiogan.

The candidates were not asked about their stand on the disputed status of current Student Regent (SR) Charisse Bañez, said Cadiogan

UP President Emerlinda Roman and three other members of the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest policy-making body in the university, moved to oust Bañez from her position in January

UP Los Baños Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco sent a letter to Roman in December 2009 saying Bañez did not enroll or file for a leave of absence for the second semester. Bañez said in January that she had filed for a leave of absence on Jan. 12, but the UPLB College of Arts and Sciences dean Asuncion Raymundo rejected it because it was filed past the Nov. 17 UPLB deadline. Bañez filed for residency on Jan. 28, but UPLB released a statement on Jan. 29 saying she was not a bona fide student of the university.

The SR is the sole student representative in the 11-person BOR.

Though Bañez’ issue was  not discussed, the candidates discussed their stand on whether or not the qualifications for SR should include a grade requirement, one of the amendments pushed in the referendum for the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) in January, 2009.

Academic requirements for SR

Mario Cerilles from Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral Para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA) and Beng Villamil from the KAISA-Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA UP) both said the SR should meet the minimum academic requirement, the same standard for USC candidates.

“Tungkuling niyang mag-aral. Tungkulin niya iyon sa taxpayers. Tungkulin niya iyon bilang mabuting anak at estudyante. Paano magagabayan ang buong UP system kung siya mismo ay hindi mabuting student?” said Cerilles.

Rain Sindayen from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP) said the grade requirement allowed the administration to interfere in a purely student matter. He urged the SR to lobby for higher state subsidy.

“What better way to maximize the little state subsidy you are given than to make as your motivation to get more?” Sindayen said.

Alumni and UP income

The USC candidates talked about income generation for the university. Sindayen slammed the UP administration for allowing private companies to utilize idle assets of the university as part of the government’s plan to abandon its duty of subsidizing education.

Cerilles and Villamil said they were not against the utilization of idle assets by private companies, as long as there were safeguards ensuring the students would benefit.

“The safeguards include that it does not compromise our academic trust as a university, that it is not a substitute to investment in education but only supplementary,” said Villamil. “That it is environmentally compliant, and most of all it has to be transparent.”

The candidates for vice-chairperson discussed how UP alumni could be tapped for donations. KAISA vice-chairperson bet Ton Bacungan said colleges should encourage their respective alumni to give donations.

“I believe colleges have to set the standard. We have to say we are worth the investment,” said Bacungan.

Bevs Lumbera of ALYANSA cited the role of alumni in renovating Vinzons Hall in 2009, adding that former students could encourage their networks of alumni to donate.

Amme Agudo of STAND-UP said UP should tap alumni not only for financial help but also to find solutions for long-standing problems. She said alumni in Congress could help lobby for pro-student laws.

“Hindi lang imbakan ng pera ang alumni,” said Agudo.


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