Despite strong opposition from the university stakeholders, incumbent UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. announced that he will be seeking for another 3-year term on the highest seat on the constituent university’s administration.
In his presentation of accomplishments, when asked whether or not he will run for a third term as chancellor, he affirmed that he wants to continue his leadership under the new normal.
“My vision when I started as chancellor was simple: to make UPLB great again. At this juncture, we are trying to recapacitate UPLB as an institution for global learning. And so, all of my programs are directed on those initiatives… Yes, to continue the programs that were started and delayed, and to smoothen the transition to the new normal that UPLB will be experiencing in the coming months,” he said.
After the announcement of Sanchez’ plan to run again for office, numerous UPLB students expressed their frustration on social media as many of them are against Sanchez’ return in office. Users started to use the hashtag #NoTo3rdTerm, and one user even said that he should not run again for office “for the sake of the UPLB community.”
In addition, Samahan ng mga Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN), the widest student alliance of organizations, fraternities and sororities in UPLB, condemned Sanchez’ plan, stating that the students are tired and dissatisfied of his incompetent leadership for the past six years.
“The student body of UPLB has long endured six years of his incompetent leadership. We will not stand for another three,” the alliance said.
They also explained that Sanchez is known for his anti-student policies, absence, and silence in campus and national issues, thus they call for a pro-people and pro-student chancellor in the upcoming chancellor selection.
“Chancellor Sanchez has been the Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños for six years now. During his term, he became notorious for his questionable absences, his lack of response to pressing campus and national issues, and his flagrant disregard for pro-student policies. We deserve better. We deserve a pro-people and pro-student Chancellor,” they said.
Student concerns on Sanchez’ term
Numerous issues arose when Chancellor Sanchez came into the highest post in the university.
Under his term, Maximum Residency Rule (MRR) and readmission cases blew up to over 600 cases, as of August 2018, due to stringent measures enforced by his administration. He always insisted that university officials are bound by the UP Code.
He even released OC Memorandum No. 30 on February 12, which disallowed faculty members from allowing unregistered students to attend classes. However, after a heated conversation with the students in a dialogue with UP President Danilo Concepcion a week after, he repealed the said memo. (READ: UPLB students confront UP President over reg concerns, https://uplbperspective.org/2020/02/23/uplb-student-confront-up-president-over-reg-concerns/)
Moreover, student activities inside and outside the campus have been monitored by police and military elements, and other programs serve as an avenue to red-tag students, as what happened in the NSTP module incident last school year, Defend UPLB Convenor and CDC Representative to the USC Seth Pagulayan said, (READ: http://bit.ly/3bWyWe8).
It is known that in a student dialogue held last October 23, 2019, Chancellor Sanchez committed to maintain UPLB as a safe haven for its stakeholders. (READ: https://bit.ly/2WXBFQ3).
He also affirmed this on the open forum after his accomplishment report presentation.
“I’ll protect each and every student of UPLB. Ayun. I’ll protect their rights and each and every student. I will guarantee freedom of expression and speech,” he said.
Another concern that the students are raising is the lack of student spaces in the university, as performing arts groups and art organizations are finding open spaces inside the campus and even renting university facilities just to do their events, workshops and rehearsals.
The Student Union building that is supposed to be the safe communal area for students for their academic tasks and group activities, is being locked down after 10 PM, thus counterproductive of its purpose. (READ: Why you should care about #OccupySU too, https://uplbperspective.org/2019/11/17/why-you-should-care-about-occupysu-too/)
To answer this, Sanchez explained that the procurement process is one of the hurdles of why the new student building construction has not yet started and once again vowed that he will address this if he will continue on his third term.
“We have initiated a plan, a new building specifically for that. But all buildings will have a space for student activities. That is the general guidelines. All new bldgs should have a student space at the first floor, after all the buildings have completed, there will be a huge number of student spaces for student activities. We’re addressing it, just give us time. Procurement process takes time. So, on that part, I agree with you and we will address your concern on student spaces,” he said.
The Search Committee for the UP Los Banos Chancellor will conduct several consultations with the university stakeholders throughout the month of August. The next UPLB Chancellor will be appointed by the UP Board of Regents (BOR) on September 24. [P]