WORDS | Czarina Joy Arevalo
“Bakit ba kayo galit na galit?” the UPLB administration asked.
In order to register the students’ call to junk the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) which caused enrollment fiasco, more than 800 students and faculty members hold a protest rally, chanting “The students, united, we’ll never be defeated” which marked the first day of classes in UP Los Banos on Wednesday.
The protest rally called for the extension of registration; postponement of classes and other operations; approval of all petition sections; explanation on the dubious and exorbitant fees; holding PAEP, UP administration, and eUP Project proponents accountable; junking of SAIS, and dialogue with the Office of the Chancellor.
The students demanded for a dialogue with UP Assistant Vice President for Development and Director Jaime D.L. Caro, eUP Project implementer, reported to be in the Office of the Chancellor. However, the UPLB administration responded by locking down the Main Library, and lying on the whereabouts of Dr. Caro.
Student protesters successfully gained entry in the building, leaving the glass door broken. They occupied the third floor where administrative offices are housed. Although there is a clamor from the students for Dr. Caro to face them, the assistant vice president has been able to leave the building, leaving the questions of the students on SAIS unanswered.
“Bakit ba kayo galit na galit?”
Juan Paolo Akihiro, Office of Public Relations staff, blatantly asked why UPLB students are in raged. His exact words say: “Bakit ba kayo galit na galit?” He said this as he negotiated with the University Student Council (USC) as students urged for a dialogue with Dr. Caro.
Another admin staff faced the students, saying “We are inviting you to go up.” “We are inviting you to go down,” USC answered. “Pero admin kami,” the admin staff added.”Pero kami ang student body,” USC said in return.
Negotiations in front of the Main Library ensued with different admin staff facing the student protesters.
37.7 M for SAIS
According to AVP Caro, 37.7 million has been allotted for SAIS, and is good for five years. These include the 14.1 million for the Oracle Software Perpetual License and 23.6 million for the implementation/deployment cost.
Moreover, other costs of the contract with ePLDT for Oracle Software and Implementation amounted to 27.8 million which accounts for System Integration Cost (1.1 M); Hosting Services (19.6 M); and Training on Technical/Users/Trainers (7.1 M).
As for eUP expenses, in general, Dr. Caro reported a total of 724.9 million. These include particulars such as Information Systems-related Expenses (215.1 M); Other IT Expenses (54.7 M); Internet and Communications (90.7 M) and; Infrastructure and Equipment (364.4 M).
AVP Jaime Caro commented on the number of student protesters in front of the Main Library, saying that they are just few students: “Konti lang ang estudyanteng nasa baba.” As the student protesters gained entry in the building, AVP Caro has already been evacuated.
Selected members of the media from the UPLB Perspective, Rappler, and Inquirer were allowed to enter the Office of the Chancellor. AVP Caro gave a presentation on eUP. He discussed the recent DoS attack in the system, expenses of the eUP, UP System bandwidth, top universities in Asia Pacific using Oracle Peoplesoft Campus Solutions, leading institutions on Oracle Campus Solutions, and Systems Integration.
SAIS is the new enrollment system which replaces the homegrown SystemOne. SAIS is part of the eUP Project by UP President Alfredo E. Pascual.
The protest rally started in the SU Amphitheatre where the annual Org Fair 2016 #UPLBUnite: Sama-samang Sumusulong Tungo sa Libreng Edukasyon organized by UPLB All Student Councils Assembly, together with the Rise for Education – UPLB, took place earlier on Wednesday.
The said org fair is a venue to showcase the culture of organizations in UPLB which elicits camaraderie and is eventually geared towards nation-building. The students marched to Oblation Park, Physical Sciences Bldg, Carabao Park, all the way to the Office of the Chancellor.
All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) joined the mobilization wherein they gave a solidarity message. Professor Liberty Notarte-Balanquit addressed PAEP, saying: “President Pascual, this is the huge wave of bodies you are waiting for.”
“You want a battle? We’ll give you a good battle,” Prof. Balanquit said.
Dialogue with the University Registrar
With the successful entry in the building, the students intensified their call for dialogue. However, no administrative officer faced the protesters but University Registrar Myrna Carandang and Assistant to the Chancellor Acordia. Chancellor Fernando Sanchez was reported to be out of the country, while AVP Caro was reported to have left the building.
While waiting for the response of the admin to the call for a dialogue, the program continued in the third floor looby with solidarity messages from different student councils and organizations, as well as cultural presentation from the demonstrators.
After series of negotiations between USC Chairperson Merwin Alinea and University Registrar Carandang through a phone call, it was settled that the dialogue be at the first floor lobby of the Main Library.
During the consultation, issues on the registration process were raised. Students demanded for extension of registration period, citing the reasons. These include prerog, long lines of student loan board, petition courses, and such. Moreover, students urged for direct statement from Dr. Carandang with regards to absences matter incurred during registration period. The university registrar, then, assured students that a request shall be filed to the Chancellor to make a memo for those students still not registered, not be marked absent.
Registration issues tackled in the dialogue include the unjust prioritization scheme of SAIS, the comparison of SAIS to SystemOne, MRR and LOA, among others.
Dr. Carandang urged students to not compare SAIS to SystemOne. Students asked the university registrar on her stand on junking SAIS. “There are things that are beyond my jurisdiction, there are preps which should be done,” Dr. Carandang answered. “I will not say yes just to make you happy. If SAIS is really a big, big, big failure, then I’m with you,” she said.
The university registrar also highlighted that PAEP wanted to talk to the students. “A van may be used to accommodate students on the way to Diliman…pero kung sampung trak naman, I will coordinate with Berto kung ano man ang desisyon regarding sa meeting with PAEP,” she added.
Jethro Pugal, student, pointed out that a single car that transports PAEP to UPLB is what is needed, not vans nor trucks transporting UPLB students to UP Diliman.
The dialogue concluded with the reiteration of the issues raised and resolutions, to be forwarded to the UPLB administration.
The protest rally ended with the dialogue, with the assurance from University Registrar Carandang to forward the calls of the student body. Prop materials, bannering the calls of student protest, were left posted in the Office of the Chancellor. The dialogue ended at aroung 8:30 in the evening. [P]