The University in Crisis: An Open Letter to the BOR

Posted on February 10, 2010

0


AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS

CONCERNED UP FACULTY, STUDENTS, REPS AND STAFF

JANUARY 29, 2010


THE UNIVERSITY IN CRISIS

A crisis is well underway when people who make up an institution are responsibly aware of shared values that facilitate the attainment of their common goals and recognize that the same values are threatened. The issues being raised by various sectors in the different constituent units of the University of the Philippines System are sufficiently alarming for they cast considerable doubt on the UP Administration’s commitment to good governance and democratization.

The Large Lecture Class Scheme (LLCS) which converts the regular class size of every General Education subject from 30-40 to 150-200 in UP Los Banos will be effective by the first semester of AY 2010-2010 according to a memorandum released by Chancellor Luis Velasco on January 4, 2009. This decision was arrived at without substantive and participative consultation with students and faculty.  The LLCS has ushered in the largest, most relentless  opposition in UPLBs recent history.

In January 14, 2009, Dean Enrique Avila of UP Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) announced the suspension of the UP Visayas Cebu High School (UPVCHS) admission test in consonance with his proposal to phase out the secondary institution. The reason for this drastic move is UPVCC’s bid for becoming an autonomous constituent unit of UP, hence the need to rechannel resources.

Both cases reveal the setbacks of commercialization espoused by the Roman Administration and the violation of the principles of democratic governance which the University is supposed to uphold. When proposals are turned to decisions made behind closed doors, and when the same decisions bear the effect of the abolition of educational institutions in the case of UPVCC and the contractualization of  labor or even job loss for the untenured faculty; and the steady decline of general education on account of large class size in the case of UPLB,  any university aiming for survival must rethink its dogmatic commitment to rationalization schemes.

A series of huge and furious protests earlier this month were undertaken by hospital staff, students and concerned faculty from the Philippine General Hospital, UP-Manila and UP-Diliman to condemn the refusal of President Emerlinda Roman to install Jose C. Gonzales PGH Director. The vigorous protests based on sound arguments and just ground resulted in the swearing in of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director, duly elected by the Board of Regents on December 18, 2009.

UP students across the nation are outraged by what they claim as a systematic violation of their right to representation in the University’s highest policy-making body. The various  charges against  Student Regent Charisse Banez, now under appeal, have also been used to   threaten her of a denial of  participation in the BOR. This situation is reflective of the Administration’s proclivity to silence the voice of the studentry in crafting decisions that greatly shape  the quality of education.

The long and drawn-out tenure application of  Sociology Professor Sarah Raymundo, that had gone through the process of appeal and denied twice by the offices of the Chancellor and the President have elicited the most unyielding  objections from local and international scholars, students and university unions. Professor Raymundo’s has proven that  when the university institutionalizes and proclaims its academic standards, the public stakes its claim on it. Her tenure application has exposed not only the arbitrariness of the tenure process but also the Administration’s disposition on not granting permanency on activist professors. Despite the series of denials from different administrative levels, Professor Raymundo’s case has not been discussed in a manner that is substantive and observant of the procedures approved by University bodies.

The cases stated above are by no means disparate. They are testimonies to the crises of good governance and democratization that plague the UP system. They raise fundamental questions, beyond political stakes, on our ability as members of an academic institution to oppose grave abuses of discretions and to assert that the ideals of  a democratic institution should be actualized. It is in the spirit that we call upon the Board of Regents to heed our call to question the corporatist claims of the  Roman Administration. There is no better time other than this moment of crisis to take another look at another vision of our pact to good governance and democratization.