Thursday, February 17, 2011

U.P. Mindanao Student Council: Dialogue with U.P. President Alfredo Pascual

Last February 14, in his third day in office, UP President Alfredo E. Pascual visited UP Mindanao. His day was filled with sectoral consultations and each sector was only alloted one hour. With the time constraint, we only had the chance to raise the very urgent issues.

Note: These are not the actual words and statements from the dialogue. These are just interpretations from the notes of the secretariat.

Pres. Pascual: This is my third day in office. This is my second unit to visit, my first was in UP Manila. I have visited UP Mindanao last year for a BOR Meeting but I didn’t have the chance to look around the campus because it was a quick trip. (He then reiterates his vision statement for the students: Provide affordable education, prepare them for a successful career and responsible citizenship)

PE Laboratory Fees

Rey (USC Vice Chairperson): The PE laboratory fees is not only a concern of our unit but of all UP students because it will be applied system-wide. It should be scrapped because we should acknowledge the fact that there was already a 300% TOFI back in 2006. In UP Mindanao, there was no proper consultation done and despite this, the DHK still pushes for the collection of the fees. We think that these PE lab fees should be scrapped.

Pres. Pascual: The government still subsidizes 85% of your education. I am aware that this is a system-wide issue. Tuition fee increase is not a default solution. I will look into this issue.

Cherry (CSM SC Secretary): In addition, it is to be noted that last year, only 40% of the population in UP Mindanao were respondents of the survey whether or not to charge PE lab fees. This is not acceptable for it should be a minimum of 50% + 1. I’d also like to ask about the COA’s findings on Chancellor Rivero’s investiture. It took four years to clarify this issue.

COA Report regarding Chancellor Rivero’s 2007 Investiture

Pres. Pascual: I am not aware of what the BOR has come up with because my last BOR meeting was back in August 2010. But we will follow the recommended actions of the COA.

Krista (USC Chairperson): We have already written the BOR back in September 2010 and the constituents were assuming that former President Roman would do an action regarding her case. We also wrote the BOR again on January 2011 so that before President Roman steps down, she would do something about it. But as we have seen, it was not even included in the January BOR meeting. Can we have your commitment regarding this matter? (Hands a copy of the COA findings to the president)

Pres. Pascual: This is my first copy. I will look into the minutes of the BOR meetings (September 2010 to January 2011) and implement COA’s recommendations.

OJT Miscellaneous Fees
Anjel (CSM SC Biology Rep): The OJT miscellaneous fees (energy fee, library fee and internet fee) are inappropriate for students that do not undergo the OJT program.

Pres. Pascual: Then students who do not undergo OJT should not be charged with these fees.

Cherry (CSM SC Secretary): (Reiterates previous speaker’s point) Students with OJT cannot even use the facilities in the campus since they are having their OJT outside the school.

Pres. Pascual: In principle, OJT fees should not be charged from students who do not have OJT. I will ask the administration regarding this matter. I am concerned with the students who are academically excellent but cannot continue their education because of financial constraints.

Pres. Pascual: (Asked the STFAP brackets of the students; asked on “drop out” cases and asked if the fees are paid in full regardless of the problem. He also inquired if there is discounted fee for STFAP scholars. He found out that the miscellaneous fee is fixed regardless of the STFAP bracket.)

How do you see UP Mindanao six years from now?

Emcee: (Reads from a written question) How do you see UP Mindanao six years from now?

Pres. Pascual: I envision that UP Mindanao will provide trained graduates, provide leadership in the profession, address research problems in Mindanao, and address national concerns. However, I am aware that resources are needed to realize the mandate - to be excellent and relevant to this country.

Campus Militarization

Rendell (LFS): We have two issues we want to raise. First, in UP Mindanao, the camp of the Regional Community Defense Group (RCDG) is present in the campus. Not only is this a concern of our unit, but also of the other regional units. According to the Sotto-Enrile accord, a military camp should be 500 meter radius away from a campus. Its presence endangers the lives of the constituents. What can we expect from your administration? Second, students are restricted from using the CHSS AVR and Lorenzo Hall for forums and other activities. As of now, we cannot use the Kalimudan since it’s not conducive for these kinds of activities.

Pres. Pascual: Military entities should not be allowed in the campus. We have to enforce the tradition to keep our campuses free from the presence of military and police. It places a lot of responsibility to the students to keep peace in the campus. In other campuses, military personnel are in the campus because of ROTC.

Use of Facilities for Student Activities

Pres. Pascual: Why is the Kalimudan inappropriate for such activities?

Rendell (LFS): It houses the canteen and the tambayans, but it has no room to hold activities like seminars and forums.

Pres. Pascual: I will visit the Kalimudan and discuss this with the Chancellor why there are restrictions. The Chancellor does the implementation of rules in the unit while my role is to check the policies.

Departmentalization of the Architecture Program

Jeff (ASC): We would like to raise the clamor to departmentalize the Architecture program. We have a 100% passing rate in our department. We really need your support on this one. Other schools already have AutoCAD while here we have to do it manually.

Pres. Pascual: I want to assure you that your faculty is also asking for the departmentalization of your program.

What do you think about the issue regarding the Bt Talong?

Emcee: (Reads from a written question) What can you say about the Bt Eggplant?

Pres. Pascual: The local government was concerned on its effects to the other crops, but I am supportive to our scientists who revealed that the plant has no harmful effect. However, I suggest that proper communication should be done. UP Mindanao should work with the stakeholders.

Constitution of the Student Council and the Autonomy of Student Institutions

Krista (USC Chairperson): The issue of the ratification of our constitution is always brought up by the administration whenever we have big protest actions. Just last week, the OSA Director called me and asked me about this matter. What we don’t understand is the Chancellor herself knows that our constitution is ratified, but she keeps asking for the document. As the new UP President, what can we expect from you in order to protect the autonomy of these student institutions?

Pres. Pascual: Our students have the capacity to govern themselves through these institutions. The Student Council has rights and responsibilities as well. I support the right of these institutions.

Unlimited use to the dance hall

Katrina (Dance Ensemble): We cannot use the dance hall in the late hours of the night because we are only restricted until 7PM. With our concert coming up, the time for practice is not sufficient and we need to extend. We would also like to ask what your opinion is on the promotion of performing arts.

Pres. Pascual: Performing arts are important but the limited access to the dance hall is maybe due to security issues. Then you should use the time appropriately to lower power cost and avoid security risks. I will check on the practice of other campuses. UP Mindanao has its own administration (and wanted to understand the administration's reason for such policy). I don’t run UP Mindanao.

Oblation Run

Nassefh (APO): During the time of Chancellor de Ungria, our organization was able to conduct the Oblation Run. But under Chancellor Rivero, our organization was suspended for doing the activity. This year, we followed the guidelines for conducting an activity, we submitted all the necessary permits required by the OSA and we still don’t have feedback from them.

Pres. Pascual: (Asked for clarifications on the matter)

Nassefh (APO): The org was suspended two years ago because of the Oblation Run.

Pres. Pascual: Is there a written policy that you cannot do the Oblation Run?

APO: None.

Krista (USC Chairperson): I actually talked with some APO members and the OSA. The OSA director explained to me that such activity could be considered a “public disturbance” but we all know that her view is very subjective.

Pres. Pascual: Who among you want an Oblation Run? (Majority raises their hands)

Aleen (APO): We want to hold Oblation Run again but our requests are repeatedly denied by the OSA and were obliged to submit concrete objectives. Our org might be suspended again.

Pres. Pascual: You should ask your other chapters in order to help you justify the activity. You should also clarify with the OSA director the reasons for suspension.

Aleen (APO): Our org’s last Oblation Run was back in 2006 as a sign of protest and we got suspended for it.

Demolition of the Main Library

Stella (BA Anthro): We are concerned of the main library’s demolition in order to make way for the construction of the access road. We all know that aside from books, the library houses other equipment.

Pres. Pascual: I am aware of the issue. The old main library was not designed to be the main library of UP Mindanao under the Campus Development Plan. Under the Plan, the construction of the University Avenue would entail the removal of a part of the old main library. The new main library will be situated at the back of the admin building. The real issue is the communication problem between the librarian and the Vice Chancellor for Administration. The demolition of the library is a short-term sacrifice.

Cherry (CSM SC Secretary): What will happen to the books during the construction of the new library?

Pres. Pascual: The books will be transferred temporarily to a building or room while construction is ongoing.

Informal Settlers

Cherry (CSM SC Secretary): The settlers in the campus are also part of the UP community. What are your plans with this sector?

Pres. Pascual: We will do what is proper with the informal settlers. We have to consider the place and their livelihood.

Rendell (LFS): Can we invite some of them to talk you about their problem?

Pres. Pascual: Now is not the right time. And it’s the responsibility of the university administrators.

Pres. Pascual: “Don't ever think that you are the only one concerned with issues on laws and policies – these are also national and university concerns...”

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