The university’s academic employees union reminds Sanchez that he is not above the authority of the University Council when it comes to academic policies.
The attendees were startled as Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. adjourned the 143rd meeting of the UPLB University Council (UC), leaving several questions unanswered about pressing issues related to the welfare of students. The chancellor reportedly disregarded the concerns raised by the faculty members.
The meeting was said to be attended by deans and representatives of every college, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Portia Lapitan and other officials from her office, and assistant professors to professor emeriti.
According to the All UP Academic Employees Union – Los Banos (AUPAEU-LB), some of the questions that the Chancellor ignored were about (1) the preparedness of faculty and students in relation to the proposed remote learning, (2) the basis of the Executive Committee’s decision to include the 2nd semester grades of AY 2019-2020, (3) the status of Maximum Residency Rule (MRR) and readmission appeals, and (4) plans and capability-building efforts for students who have limited resources for remote learning.
“Nagulantang ang maraming faculty sa biglang pagtatapos ng meeting gayong nakaagenda ang ‘Other Matters’ na makatutulong sana upang malinawan ang mga faculty sa ilang malalabo pang policies. Batid ng karamihan na mahaba nga ang pulong subalit may standing questions na dapat ay natugunan muna,” said Cris Lanzaderas, Vice President for Faculty of the All UP Academic Employees Union – Los Banos (AUPAEU-LB).
The meeting was said to follow an agenda to talk about candidates for graduation and honor students for each college, UP Code revisions on student mobility, curricular proposals, and other matters. University Registrar Maribel Dionisio-Sese explained that all questions were reserved for the last agenda and must be sent to the Q&A platform in Zoom, but the meeting barely made it to that point because it was “lunch time”.
“Mahaba ang naging talakayan sa curricular proposals ngunit matiyagang nag-abang ang mga faculty sa pagkakataong mabuksan ang hapag para sa talakayan ng “Other Matters.” Binuksan din ang Q&A function ng Zoom na nangangahulugang mag-e-entertain sila ng mga tanong mula sa mga faculty members. Subalit nang matapos ang CEAT sa paglalatag ng kanilang curricular proposals, agarang isinara ang pulong dahil sa ‘lunch time’ na,” said Lanzaderas.
Lanzaderas added that the adjournment seemed rushed, leaving multiple concerns raised by the faculty members unresolved, including MRR and readmissions policies affecting the students.
“Walang naging maayos na sintesis at recognition sa mga tanong na nasa Q&A at tila ba nagmamadaling tapusin na ang pulong. Ilan sa concern ay hinggil sa inclusion ng 2nd Sem sa computation ng grades at ang MRR at readmission policies na nai-raise ng mga mag-aaral,” he said.
After being told to save their questions for later, faculty members who were raising concerns waited until the curricular proposal of the College of Engineering and Agro-industrial Technology (CEAT), who was last to present in the agenda on curricular proposals. Hands were raised in the Zoom call, wanting to talk about the issues, that was until Chancellor Sanchez reportedly adjourned the meeting.
“Chancellor Sanchez decided to adjourn the meeting abruptly without so much as recognizing that there were still raised hands who wanted to be heard for the issues crucial to the University’s preparation for the next academic year and its crafting of policies for the students who seem to have taken the back seat considering the University’s effort in addressing their concerns,” the AUPAEU-LB said in a statement.
AUPAEU-LB expressed disgust for the said action, saying that they were essentially deprived from participating in the discussion.
“After all, Section 17 of RA 9500 reiterates the authority of the University Council, not the Chancellor, as the highest academic body that shall act on academic-related programs and policies,”All UP Academic Employees Union UPLB
“University Council meetings should be a democratic space for academic policies to be reviewed and crafted. By completely ignoring the questions raised during the meeting, we were robbed of our right to participate in an academic discussion that aims to put the University’s plans and actions into perspective,” the union said.
Concerns of the faculty
The concerned faculty members wanted to talk about a variety of issues, one of which is the preparedness of students and faculty for the upcoming usage of remote learning and instruction for the first semester.
On June 29, a town hall meeting between UPLB students and the UP Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA) was held to supposedly consult students for the upcoming first semester of AY 2020-2021. Despite citing several surveys revealing the lack of preparedness on behalf of the students, the university is set on continuing education through remote learning.
Faculty members also wanted to ask about the plans and capability-building efforts of the UPLB admin in supporting students with limited resources for remote learning, wherein the OVPAA announced last June 29 that the university would provide Learning Assistance Grants to supposedly assist students in acquiring gadgets and a stable internet connection. The last update on this matter was that this proposal would be designed and implemented by this month.
Another concern was about the UPLB Executive Committee’s decision to include the 2nd semester grades of AY 2019-2020 in the computation of a student’s General Weighted Average (GWA).
According to the union, the inclusion of the grade “would not truly reflect honor and excellence” due to students facing several challenges where “privilege proves to be the primary factor on how well they [the students] can cope”.
Lastly, the faculty also wanted to follow-up on the progress for pending MRR and readmission cases. However, the only update they received was about Vice Chancellor Lapitan’s update as a “matter arising from the minutes” on the establishment of a Committee on Student Progress under the UC, of which the appeals were to be revisited and reviewed.
In an update by the University Student Council (USC), it was said that the Committee on Student Progress affirmed the UPLB admin’s disapproval of appeals.
The said committee also did not present the basis to disapprove the appeals, said AUPAEU-LB President Janette Malata-Silva. In a statement, the union demanded that the UPLB admin must release a “needs-based plan of action in addressing the legitimate concerns raised by the faculty members”, and a report on how the disapproval of MRR and readmission cases were decided upon.
Refrain from abuse
AUPAEU-LB called out the chancellor to refrain from abusing power in their open letter published last night, citing Section 17 of the 2008 UP Charter. They emphasized that the authority for acting on academic-related programs and policies was in the hands of the UC, and not the chancellor.
“After all, Section 17 of RA 9500 reiterates the authority of the University Council, not the Chancellor, as the highest academic body that shall act on academic-related programs and policies,” the union said. “As such, we are demanding that Chancellor Sanchez recognize the authority of the University Council and refrain from abusing his power as the presiding chair of the Council.”
The Perspective is currently reaching out to the Office of the Chancellor (OC) to get their side on the matter. [P]