With another broken glass door, history has repeated itself.
Despite the heavy rains and suspension of classes, the first day rage protest organized by the University Student Council (USC) pushed through on August 2.
Upon reaching the Main Library, the students were met with a row of the University Police Force (UPF) and the Community Support Brigade (CSB) who were already blocking the entrance to the library. Nonetheless, student protesters formed a barricade to pressure the CSB and UPF to open the doors and let them in.
A few moments later, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Portia Lapitan faced the students to say that Chancellor Fernando Sanchez has already left because he had a meeting with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). However, students stood their ground and waited until they got a dialogue from the administration.
Furthermore, after several attempts to open the doors, USC Chairperson Charm Maranan was called inside by Vice Chancellor Lapitan. The CSB and UPF were then told that the students will be invited inside.
With this, the students calmed down and waited for the doors to be opened.
However, students were outraged after receiving a text from Maranan that they will no longer be let inside. They once again tried to let themselves in which led to the glass door breaking, leaving at least 2 students injured.
Dialogue with Lapitan
After successfully entering the Main Library, the students demanded for a proper dialogue with the administration, due to Chancellor Sanchez’ absence, Vice Chancellor Lapitan faced the students.
The students registered their call for free education and no tuition collection and urged the administration to be one with them in their calls as studies show that free education in UP is possible as UP, like other SUCs in the country sit on billions of funds collected from tuition fees and other school fees.
Alongside these calls, the students also condemned the release of a new memorandum by UP President Danilo Concepcion, invalidating the previously released memorandum by the Office of the Vice Chancellor suspending the collection of tuition fees for the First Semester of Academic Year 2017-2018.
Students present at the dialogue expressed how this has burdened lots of students in the university as Student Financial Assistance (SFA) and Socialized Tuition System (STS) results were only released that day.
“Saan po naming papakuhanin ng 30,000 ang mga magulang namin para ibayad sa tuition na akala nila ay suspended ngayon sem?” one student said.
On implementation of STS
“UP has limited resources. We have to rationalize kung sino yung qualified doon sa limited resources na ito. Alangan namang random yung pag-bigay naming ng limited resources,” Vice Chancellor Lapitan explained why UPLB still uses the Socialized Tuition System (STS).
She explained further that the tuition fee paid by the students is being used to operate UPLB.
“Kung gagawing free tuition, hindi sasagutin ng government [ang pang-operate sa UPLB], hindi sapat ang magiging resources. Kaya kailangan ang national government ang magsasabi ng free tuition parasila ang sasagot ng supposed free tuition niyo,” she added.
Students asked Vice Chancellor Lapitan if she can commit to joining the students to the Office of the President in voicing out their appeals. She said no but instead promised to release a statement regarding her commitment to free education. However, she did not want to discuss what her statement would include and requested that the students wait and see how she does her work, and that she does not want to be pressured.
“My say on the matter will not in any way be significant enough to change anything. I would not want to give you false hope,” she pressed.
The dialogue with Vice Chancellor Lapitan ended with two conclusions: that she will release a statement regarding the issue on tuition fee collection; and that tomorrow, August 3, she will ask Chancellor Sanchez to schedule a dialogue with the students.
The students hoped that the dialogue happens before August 25, the last day of enrolment.
Series of memos
The first day rage protest aimed to call the UP administration’s attention towards the series of memos released this July regarding the suspension of tuition fee collection.
On July 24, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) released a memo announcing the suspension of collection of tuition fees “until further notice.” This was followed by another memo last July 31, when the Office of the President release a memo that said “ UP shall use the Socialized Tuition System for Academic Year 2017-2018 in assessing the tuition and other fees, and providing financial support to the students.”
The results of the STS were released earlier today. [P]