UPDATE (August 29, 2020): Statements from the UPLB Sigma Rho Fraternity and the UPLB Genetics Society were added to the article.
In the search of the next UPLB Chancellor, statements from numerous student institutions, the ‘Vibe Check’ election polls, and the No to Third Term Coalition (N3TC) all convey the same message: “Heed the students’ concerns!”
With elections deemed exclusive to the Board of Regents (BOR), several organizations resorted to different public movements to prompt voters to put the interests of different sectors of the university first as these members of the board select the 10th Chancellor of UPLB. Additionally, organizations took the time to answer the question of what makes a “pro-student, pro-people” chancellor.
Among the hopefuls for term 2020-2023 are the current dean of UPLB Graduate School (GS) Dr. Jose Camacho Jr., President of Eclaro Academy and Eclaro Business Solutions Inc. Dr. Patrick Alain Azanza, and incumbent chancellor Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr.
On the welfare of the university
Public statements from the UP Cell Biological Society (Cells), UPLB Computer Science Society (COSS), the UPLB Genetics Society, the UPLB Sigma Rho Fraternity, and the UP College of Economics and Management Student Council (CEMSC) put emphasis on how the next chancellor should appeal to constituents’ demands, as these elections will determine the welfare of the university.
Despite not expressing support for any of the candidates, UP Cells highlighted the importance of the BOR’s careful examination of these chancellorship candidates, as their votes greatly affect the state of the university’s largest and primary constituent: the students.
“We further urge our fellow Iskolar ng Bayan not only to be informed but also to scrutinize the candidates as whoever is decided to be our next chancellor will affect our premise as students of the university; moreso, that we may risk endangering our welfare and that of history repeating itself,” they said.
UP Cells also voiced out the past issues UPLB constituents faced under Sanchez’s administration, describing the allowed red-tagging of the students, the administered Student Union (SU) curfew hours, and the rise of MRR & readmission cases once again as anti-student policies.
The UPLB COSS emphasized on the need of a pro-student, pro-faculty Chancellor. He must have an in-depth understanding of issues relating to the constituents’ academic freedom, such as the red-tagging or military intervention, Maximum Residency Rule cases, Student Academic Information System (SAIS) problems, and student fees.
They further asserted that the next chancellor would hear the needs of the students and faculty by giving them a platform to voice out their concerns, especially during this pandemic. As UPLB COSS mentioned that the past administration fell short in hearing these concerns, the organization hoped that the next chancellor would not let history repeat itself.
The UPLB Genetics Society called for the future chancellor to ensure that no student would be left behind, to prioritize the safety of the students in the time of the Anti-Terror Law, and to junk the expensive eUP projects that have been deemed as hindrances to the learning of the university’s students.
Likewise, the UPLB Sigma Rho Fraternity shared similar sentiments regarding what they sought in a chancellor, which included addressing student and faculty grievances, providing accessible education, upholding student freedom, and standing against state oppression.
Meanwhile, the CEMSC released a public critique on all three vision papers of the chancellor candidates.
Through every critique made, CEMSC stressed on the importance of the next chancellor developing a “strong academic and administrative leadership,” but at the same time learning to prioritize the constituents’ welfare.
In Azanza’s vision paper, the said student council observed that there was no mention of tackling the attacks of the university’s academic freedom such as MRR, red-tagging, and the staff’s security of tenure. They noted that although centralizing the university vision to a “Silicon Valley UPLB” is a good step to the advancement of the industry, constituents must be cautious with the implication of partnering with private businesses, since commercialization schemes have been a pressing issue for the UP system.
On the other hand, despite no specific plan of action with MRR or readmission issues and online resources for the students’ flexible learning, Camacho’s vision paper was commended by the council for solely focusing on quality education, research utilization, and developing the inclusive environment of the constituents.
For Sanchez’s vision paper, the council did not let his past six years of him leaving the students behind, faculty and staff on the sidelines as he continued to chase after global standards. As his vision speaks of a transition to the new normal and transforming UPLB into a resilient and Industry 4.0 responsive university, the current inaction towards online resources, job security, and registration problems that have been intensified by the pandemic made the CEMSC question his priorities as a chancellor.
‘No more chances, Sanchez’
As a counter-response to the announcement of Sanchez seeking reelection, several student organizations established an alliance named “No to Third Term Coalition (N3TC).” They held a press conference last August 6 to discuss the present chancellor’s failure in catering to the university constituents’ needs.
Initiated by political party and student alliance SAKBAYAN, Officer-in-Charge Jianred Faustino pressed that the UPLB community is not in need of a “playing-safe” chancellor, especially now that the Terror Law is in effect.
In the press conference, fellow members from SAKBAYAN-UPLB, UPLB USC, KULAYAN-UPLB, Rise for Education UPLB, UPLB Perspective and the AUPAEU-LB voiced out Sanchez’s inaction and lack of support towards academic matter. These include student protection, sufficient facilities, transparency of information, Maximum Rule Residency (MRR) cases, and online and blended learning resources.
According to Faustino, their prior experiences disclosed how Sanchez had fallen short with his duties during his chancellorship. All in all, they emphasized the need of a pro-student, in-touch chancellor who does not implement repressive policies and hinder the students, faculty and staff.
“Ngayon, we need a chancellor na kasama sa mga panawagan natin. Kahit anong dilemma ang harapin ng [e]studyante, sasandig siya sa atin,” Faustino reiterated.
SAKBAYAN-UPLB also released a public statement, as they further emphasized on how the six years of neglect towards bringing public service and asserting his stand towards the country’s pressing issues has led them to form the N3TC. They cite numerous instances where Sanchez had chosen to remain silent towards political issues, such as the burial of the late dictador Marcos, the red-tagging of AFP and NTF-ELCAC to student organizations.
They also mentioned the recent Cabuyao 11 incident, as they stated, “And even as he [Sanchez] flaunted his help in freeing the Cabuyao 11 during the vision presentation, let us all know that the freedom of Cabuyao 11 was because of the collective clamor we raised online and the active negotiations of the paralegals and volunteers on ground. If the veracity of his claim is true, it is nothing but a ceremonial action that didn’t contribute anything to the actual events. As is most of his actions in his six years.” [P]
Photo from UPLB Perspective