By Dexter Cabalza
Students failed to reach a consensus during the consultation on revisions to the UP Student Code led by the University Student Council (USC) Tuesday at the School of Economics Auditorium.
According to the USC, only 60 students attended the consultation. In fact, only one of the three sessions pushed through.
The morning (9-12 noon) session at the College of Education Auditorium and the evening session (4-7 p.m.) at the SE Auditorium were cancelled because of low student attendance, said USC Vice Chairperson Jules Guiang.
“Yung request kasi namin supposedly sa administrators, especially kay Chancellor Saloma, yung pinaka-maximum namin is to suspend classes at least for a specific time (We requested the administrators, especially Chancellor Caesar Saloma, to suspend classes at least for a specific time),” he said.
Instead, the Chancellor released Monday a memorandum which “strongly urged” students to participate in the consultation.
Primarily, the students discussed the proposed changes to Articles 330, 430 and 431 of the University Student Code and the proposed Socialized Tuition Fee System of 2013 (STS 2013).
If approved, the STS 2013 would replace the current Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) implemented since 1989 and amended in 2007.
The STFAP places students under six brackets, which determine the tuition rates according to his/her family income.
Under the current system, students who do not apply for STFAP are automatically placed under bracket A and pay P1,500 per unit. Those who which for lower tuition brackets must submit certain requirements, such as copies of his/her parents’ income tax return, utility bills and declaration of assets, including a 13-page application form.
President Alfredo Pascual’s STS 2013 aims to reform the STFAP by “streamlining and automating” the bracket assignment process, currently done manually by staff members of the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS).
A 30-percent “upward adjustment,” however, will be made for the income cut-offs for brackets A, B, C and D due to inflation, according to Pascual’s presentation to the USC.
The following revisions to Student Code admission and retention policies are also being proposed:
These provisions came under fire when UP Manila freshman Kristel Tejada took her life on March 16 allegedly due to her inability to pay tuition loans from the university.
According to Guiang, the consultation led by the USC was in response to the Dec. 2 meeting of the USC and the League of College Councils (LCC) with Pascual to discuss the results of the Nov. 28 BOR meeting. (Read: BOR decisions ‘not binding’ due to lack of quorum)
Pascual was absent during Tuesday’s consultations due to illness. Former OSSS Director Richard Philip Gonzalo and Special Assistant to the President Lourdes Portus presented the STS 2013 and Student Code provisions respectively.
“Base sa sinabi sa amin ni Pres.Pascual, walang consultation na naganap [saDiliman], walang report na nagawa [ang Office of the Student Regent (OSR)] (Based on what President Pascual told us, there was no consultation in UP Diliman and the Office of the Student Regent did not made a report),” said Guiang who is also the convener of the LCC.
The LCC is the official alliance of local student councils in UP Diliman.
Guiang said they were surprised that there were such proposals, and copies of the proposals were submitted to the OSR in September.
BOR Secretary Lilian De Las Llagas issued a memorandum on Dec. 3 stating that “all matters that were brought up to the BOR for decision were not acted upon” since the meeting lacked quorum. Student Regent Krista Melgarejo was absent during the meeting due to a medical condition.
Melgarejo released an official statement through the OSR’s Facebook page which questioned the intent and timing of the Dec. 2 meeting of the UP administration with Diliman student leaders.
“I cannot help but conclude that the meeting on Dec. 2 was a ‘divide and rule’ tactic on the part of the administration,” the statement read.
Melgarejo said she called for a consultation in Dilimanduring the second week of November but only members of several local student councils came.
Prior to the Diliman consultation, Melgarejo said the OSR made consultations regarding the STS 2013 and the Student Code Provisions in different university constituent units, except for UP Visayas Tacloban and Palo, Leyte which were hit by typhoon Yolanda.
The USC called for an emergency meeting Wednesday night on how it would treat the result of the consultation, Guiang said.
The BOR is the university’s highest policy-making body composed of 11 members from executive and legislative offices and UP sectors. The next BOR meeting is set on Friday, Dec. 13.