Several UPLB stakeholders established the No to Third Term Coalition (N3TC) as a way to counter the possible reelection of Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. as chancellor and to ensure the end of his leadership in the university.
Different individuals from the Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN), Kulturang Ugnayan ng Kabataan Alay sa Bayan (KULAYAN) – UPLB, UPLB University Student Council (USC), UPLB Perspective, and Rise for Education – UPLB (R4E-UPLB) came together to discuss their experiences which they have long endured under the “tone-deaf” administration of Chancellor Sanches for six years.
From the rigorous anti-student policies particularly on Maximum Residency Rule (MRR) and readmission cases, absence of genuine student spaces for academic and art purposes, defective facilities to lack of academic and research support to faculty, researchers and extension workers, the press conference revolved on Sanchez as being a consistent administration which does not take into account the calls of his very own constituents since day one.
On lack of support and anti-student policies
SAKBAYAN Officer-in-Charge Jianred Faustino discussed the lack of concrete responses and stances from the administration with regards to national issues. Faustino recalled Sanchez’s non-existent stance on the Cabuyao 11 as he didn’t release any statement of support after allegedly attesting to himself that he did give aid during his presentation of visions, plans and programs last August 5.
“Sabi ni [Sanchez] na tumulong siya sa paglaya ng Cabuyao 11. Ni isang statement of support para sa Cabuyao 11 wala tayong natanggap sa kaniya.” Faustino said. She added that the students of UPLB do not need a “playing-safe chancellor” especially after the Anti-Terror Bill was passed.
“Ngayon, we need a chancellor na kasama sa mga panawagan natin. Kahit anong dilemma ang harapin ng studyante, sasandig siya sa atin,” she said.
The continuing lack of support from the administration for the humanities and arts, in particular to the lack of art and student spaces were tackled as well. Roy Padrid of KULAYAN – UPLB stressed that the administration turns a blind eye to the needs of arts students to pursue their education.
“Nariyan ang mahal na pagbabayad para sa rehearsal spaces at nandiyan ang curfew… hindi naman talaga tinutulungan ng administrasyon ang mga estudyante. Wala pa rin tayong maayos na theater/performance space,” he said as he further called, specifically, the animation studio built under Sanchez’s administration that remained unused since then.
Shaira Daludalo from the Rise 4 Education Alliance of UPLB put light as well on the administration’s lack of action on MRR and readmission cases.
“Ang UPLB ang may pinakamataas na bilang ng MRR/Re-ad cases sa buong university. Marami sa mga estudyanteng apila ay mga may problemang pampinansyal at personal na issues, na hindi na-consider ng Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,” she said.
Furthermore, the administration’s lack of support also manifested to student journalists as Mac Arboleda from the UPLB Perspective emphasized the state of press freedom in the campus and the struggle experienced by the student journalists to access information due to lack of transparency. He also backed the lack of safe student spaces after recalling cases where security attempts to evacuate student journalists during curfew who were simply doing press work in their office.
“Ramdam natin yung lack of support ng UPLB as an institution, under Chancellor Sanchez’s leadership, para sa mga media at journalists na patuloy na inaatake ngayon ng administrasyong Duterte,” he said.
Meanwhile, incumbent UPLB USC Vice Chairperson Jainno Bongon focused on anti-student policies under the said administration. “Napakaraming issues ng kakulangan ng laboratories and facilities natin. For example, in BioSci na naghahatian ng petri dishes and in Chemistry na bumibili ng sari-sariling reagents,” said Bongon.
He also revealed that the problematic Student Academic Information System (SAIS) was implemented under Sanchez’s term. He further elaborated on the subsisting anti-student policies within the university as he discussed commercialization of dormitories, “tambayans”, freshmen recruitment ban, and branding of student organizations as disruptive.
On online and blended learning
On the ground of the university planning to continue the academic year through online and blended learning, one of the speakers, specifically from Rise for Education Alliance – UPLB, recapitulated Sanchez administration’s unpreparedness and failure to consult and entertain students’ pleas regarding it.
“Marami sa mga estudyante ay kulang sa resources. Isang report ng USC ay 50% ang na-interview na estudyante na hindi pa handa para sa online/blended learning”, Daludalo said on which she expressed that there is a major disparity among the privileged constituents and to those who are lacking of resources.
Department of Humanities Assistant Professor Reya Velasco, who was one of the speakers as well, seconded on this matter. She said that the interests of other faculty were not addressed in the meeting essential for the said planning as they are admittingly not yet ready to conduct remote learning.
Besides online learning, Professor Velasco shared the experience of faculty under Chancellor Sanchez. She recounted the lack of job security and benefits that is, up to an extent, equivalent to the experience of contractual workers at fast food restaurants.
Moreover, she added the faculties’ struggle on proper tenure and guaranteed permanent employment since a particular memorandum raised the qualifications of faculties to be tenured – from one publication needed to be published to five publications in order to be tenured.
‘Singko’ for Sanchez
Flagging a grade of “5.00”, remarks of “Forced DRP” and “Disapproved” – like that in MRR/Re-ad decisions made by the administration – on the screen, the online press conference came to an end after further calling students and other sectoral communities in UPLB to stand united in expressing dissent alongside demanding ideal chancellor who is transparent, consultative and pro-student .
“Hindi na natin afford na magpaupo pa ng anti-student na chancellor na detached and out of touch. Napakaraming mga pangarap ang namatay at repressive policies na na-implement sa leadership ni Chancellor Sanchez,” Daludalo said as they unify the call of UPLB community to stop Sanchez from the Chancellorship. [P]