Words by Alex Delis
With Fernando Sanchez Jr.’s nomination for UP presidency, constituents express concerns over possible anti-student policies. One of the prominent controversies surrounding the Sanchez administration is the increase of maximum residency rule (MRR) and readmission cases in UPLB, which peaked to over 600 cases in 2018.
MRR refers to the certain period of time a student can register in the University. Usually, the given number of years is equivalent to one and a half times the normal length of the degree program, but extension can be granted depending on the circumstances. Readmission, on the other hand, is only allowed once for those dismissed students due to reasons such as failed courses, probation, leave of absence (LOA), among many others.
(RELATED STORY: Singko-Worthy Service: UPLB admin’s handling of MRR/Re-ad cases)
In an exclusive interview with UPLB Perspective, a readmitted student in UPLB named Lily, not her real name, recalls her experience on the MRR and re-ad process during Sanchez’ term.
Lily narrates that she underwent three readmission processes, wherein her second attempt in 2018 was not approved by the former administration. It was only during Chancellor Jose Camacho Jr. ‘s term in 2020 where she was granted to register again in the University.
“Yung sa process ng re-ad, well, mahirap siya kasi ang dami mong kailangang asikasuhin like ‘yung bureaucratic processes, ganyan. Kailangan mong dumaan sa adviser, sa institute ninyo hanggang makarating kay Chancy [Sanchez]. Syempre dinisapprove niya so kailangan mo mag-appeal,” she explained.
(Regarding the re-ad process, well, it is difficult since there are many things you need to work on, like the bureaucratic processes. You need to go through your adviser, your institute, until it reaches Chancy [Sanchez]. Of course, it was disapproved so you need to appeal).
Lily’s experience in her readmission appeal was not an isolated case. In students’ dialogue with UP President Danilo Concepcion regarding MRR and readmission concerns in February 2020, several students and faculty members expressed dismay on the processes for MRR and re-ad appeals (READ: UPLB students confront UP President over reg concerns).
Students present in the dialogue have their own reasons for their appeals, but were all rejected by the administration without clear grounds for doing so.
“Actually, kung binabasa natin ‘yung mga pinapasang apila, hindi tayo makakaabot dito [sa dialogue]. Dapat binabasa natin ang appeals, dapat kinakausap ‘yung mga estudyante, iniintindi ‘yung problema nila,” said by student named Seth during the said dialogue.
(Actually, if we are really reading the submitted appeals, we will not be here in the dialogue today. We should read the appeals, we should talk to the students to understand their concerns).
With this, students present in the dialogue urged Concepcion and Sanchez to stop and review such codal provisions in the UP Code. Article 389 of the UP Code prohibits UP students to apply for MRR within a certain period of time and readmission for the second time.
“Sa Article 389 ay nakalagay na hindi magiging eligible na mag-re-ad ulit after a try. Sobrang broad nung sinasabi na hindi magiging eligible; hindi kino-consider ang iba’t ibang factors like mental capabilities, economic, and financial,” stressed then-OIC College of Economics and Management (CEM) Representative and current Student Regent (SR) Siegfred Severino during the 2020 dialogue.
(In Article 389, it was stated that students will not be eligible to readmit after a try. This eligibility matter is indeed broad; different factors were not considered like mental capabilities, economic, and financial.)
This is also the sentiment of Lily where she emphasized that the administration must take into consideration several factors as to why students like her need to appeal for readmission or MRR. Additionally, she also shared how the interview for re-ad appeal took a toll on her mental and emotional health.
She said, “Pagdating doon sa mismong interview [for re-ad appeal], hindi naman maiiwasan na magiging emotional ka ganyan. Kailangan mong i-appeal yung case mo eh. By that time yata, naka-apat o limang appeal na ako, so ‘yung paper ko medyo makapal na. Tapos ang sinabi sa’kin nung assistant ni Chancy ay parang, ‘Bakit ka umiiyak?’”
(During the actual interview [for re-ad appeal], you can’t help being emotional because you need to appeal your case. I think by that time, I already appealed four to five times so my paper seems to be hefty. Then Chancy’s assistant told me something like, “Why are you crying?”).
Aside from such remarks, the administration admitted in a 2017 dialogue with USC that “gut feel” was only used to decide if the student with MRR and re-ad cases will get approved or not. Sanchez attempted to refute this by releasing a statement that University Code served as the basis for approving the appeals, but students say otherwise. There are several instances where the appeals share the same reasons and experiences, yet not all of these got approved.
Former Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA) Julieta Reyes also said in the dialogue that they did not interview all students who appealed. Instead, they only gave a chance to those they think are “eligible for an interview”.
‘Bound’ by the code?
Sanchez also released Memorandum No. 30, days before the said dialogue. The said memorandum prohibited students who have not paid their dues to the University, and consequently were not enrolled, from entering classes. Lily described this memorandum as “triggering” and “ceased her progress to do better”.
“Imbes na pakinggan niya yung mga estudyante, ang lumalabas ay wala siyang pake kasi nandun na ‘yung mga mobilizations at dialogues, pero maglalabas siya ng memo na ganito,” added Lily.
(Instead of heeding the calls of the students, what is happening is that he does not care because despite the mobilizations and dialogues, he released this kind of memo.)
Prof. Mariyel Liwanag of the Department of Humanities (DHum) also took the side of the students regarding the Memorandum 30. She reiterated during the said dialogue, “Tayo [faculty] ang ikalawang magulang ng mga estudyanteng ito. We have to follow the memo, but at the same time, kung ganoon ang role natin sa kanila, I’d rather accept my students habang ongoing ‘yung appeal”.
(We [faculty] are their second parents of these students. We have to follow the memo, but at the same time if it is our role to them, I’d rather accept my students while their appeal remains pending).
In a statement that Sanchez released on December 8, Sanchez once again emphasized that the said memorandum is under the University Code provision. Such conflicts in student records may arise if unregistered students continue to go to classes, according to him. In the 2020 dialogue, it can be recalled that the former Chancellor kept on repeating that he is “bound” by the University Code.
This was met with heavy criticisms, as students kept on reminding the former Chancellor that they have the right to continue their education. They also asserted that codal provisions are not always valid. Due to the assertion and collective action of the students, Memorandum No. 30 was taken down days after the dialogue.
When asked what is the biggest challenge the UP System would face if Sanchez wins the UP presidency selection, Lily replied that the students’ concerns, especially that we are in the midst of transitioning to physical classes, will not be heeded since Sanchez has a history of not communicating and listening to the University’s constituents.
She also emphasized, “Si Sanchez, in general, very anti-student siya kasi aside from MRR, re-ad cases, ang dami niya ring hinayaang policies na ‘di naman nakakatulong sa estudyante. Mas kailangan natin i-highlight ‘yung mga bagay na ‘di niya nagawa nang maayos before at tingnan natin kung deserve ba natin ‘yon, kung deserve ba ‘yun ng buong UP as an institution.”
(Sanchez, in general, is very anti-student. Aside from MRR re-ad cases, there are many anti-student policies which he let slide through. We need to highlight the things that he failed to do and we should see if we deserve him, if the UP as a whole institution deserves him.) [P]
This is the second article of a three-part coverage. To read more about other anti-student policies under Sanchez’s term, click here. To read more about the challenges that the faculty faced under Sanchez’s term, click here.
For more background about Sanchez, his mission and vision as a nominee, and his responses to critical questions during forums for UP Presidential nominees, follow this link.
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