Concerned UP Faculty Against the Budget Cut
(26 Nov 2010)
We faculty members of the University of the Philippines, forge solidarity and unity with our students who protest the 2011 budget cut to the University of the Philippines of the Aquino government.
Our fight against the budget cut is also a counter-argument against those who continue to deny that the budget cut is not even real and is not a threat to the university. The difference between the 2010 budget and the proposed 2011 budget proves the reality of the pending slash in the subsidy for UP. The refusal to recognize this fact is an attempt to douse the spirit of solidarity among the different sectors within the UP community, a solidarity that has been growing despite and because of the worsening conditions in the university. In response to protests against the budget cut, President Noynoy Aquino himself cited UP’s partnership with the Ayala corporation as supposed proof of UP’s self-sufficiency, thereby justifying the pending budget cut and state abandonment of its constitutional role to protect public education. Aquino’s reasoning also goes against the UP 2008 charter which clearly states that income generated from commercial ventures cannot substitute state subsidy.
It is within this context that all sectors of the university must claim their stakes in protecting the right to education. However, the corporatization of the university has resulted in the distortion of the role of the university as critic of society. With university presidents assuming the roles of CEOs, the business that is now the university has caused the retooling of member functions from central administration down the line.
Deans of the different colleges in different state universities worldwide have to put up with the retooling of their function as academic leaders. Now more than ever the neoliberal policies on education that results in the increasing privatization of SUCs demand that academic leaders should also practice the best entrepreneurial skills for income generating schemes for their respective academic units. The pursuit for academic excellence has never been threatened in a manner that is most systematic and divisive.
Faculty members, while still suffering from meagre salaries, large-size classes, contractualization, academic repression, and the lack of funding for research, find themselves adjusting to the new demands of the curriculum that has to abide by the demands of corporate interests. The relevance of disciplines is largely determined by available funding from private or foreign sources rather than knowledge production and dissemination. After all, marketization dictates that what works is what sells.
<span> </span>The business culture in universities has further divided employees of the university through the sharp discrimination between mental and manual labor. Unfair labor practices like agency-hiring leave workers unprotected and without benefits, despite their services to the university. This business culture treats all employees dispensable, thereby tacitly discouraging unionism. There is no other form of organization in all fields that involve labor force participation that is more effective in educating workers and actually protecting their rights. It is lamentable that public universities worldwide, on account of corporatization, have made unionism a practice that should be avoided to ensure one’s tenure and to gain the favor of one’s superiors.
Those who are fortunate enough to afford college education is comprised only by a small minority of the youth sector. And yet, the age of corporatization has warped students from being learners and knowledge-producers for progressive change into consumers of and investors in their own education. Students contend with tuition hikes, laboratory and miscellaneous fee increases, poor facilities, and repression in universities worldwide. But this sector, which is under siege, is the very same sector that has demonstrated its strong protest by calling for unity and solidarity of the different groups in the university, otherwise fragmented by the corporatizing logic of neoliberal schemes.
This is the real state of the University. As faculty members, we are called to be one with our students’ call for unity and action. Our students have spoken, and have expanded the space of learning beyond the classroom and conference halls. It is time we join them. It is time to strike.