STAND-UP on Neoliberalism & the Need for Student Representation in the BOR

Posted on February 12, 2010



Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP


The internal conflict within the University of the Philippines is sharper than ever. The conflict manifests in a crisis that pits the agents of neoliberal education, further commercialization and privatization against the forces asserting the mandate of service to the Filipino masses.

Down south, the UP Cebu High School is threatened of closure for being a financial liability to a regional unit that intends to become an autonomous unit. In UP Los Baños, the chancellor is pushing for the adoption of large lecture classes. In UP Manila, the appointment of a director puts at stake the fate of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

The decades-long record of the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) has shown its resilient stance against the many anti-student and anti-people policies being pushed in the Board of Regents (BOR) – the highest decision making body of UP. Because of such, student representation has been constantly attacked to rid of a sturdy pro-student, pro-people force in the Board. This year the attempts to deny student representation in the BOR are vicious than ever. Selection of a new Student Regent was delayed for months due to the requirement of a Systemwide referendum inserted in the new UP Charter. Just a day after her selection in April, then SR-select Charisse Bañez was slapped with a string of cases and disciplinary action to prevent her from assuming her post. It was only after July, three months after her selection, when the Malacañang-dominated BOR allowed SR Bañez to finally sit in the BOR as a voting member.

However, when the vote of the SR became a crucial and decisive vote against the re-appointment of two-term PGH Dir. Alfiler, a patron of PGH privatization, the Malacañang-dominated BOR led by Pres. Roman took advantage of the late application for residency of SR Bañez to question her status in the BOR and consequently reverse their losing attempt to re-appoint Dr. Alfiler.

The attempt to oust the Student Regent from the Board is a classic display of political persecution in the University. When the whims of the powerful Malacañang bloc fail, student leaders and student representation become primary targets. Officials would readily deny student representation just to ensure the implementation of government plans.

It is naive thus for certain formations to acquiesce to and parrot the BOR line that stands merely on technical grounds. It is imperative for student organizations to do away with opportunism and unite against the recent attack on student representation. The call of the time is to boldly struggle to defend the OSR.