Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vigilance on the New U.P. Administration


Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN), the widest alliance of student organizations in the University of the Philippines, extends its warm congratulations to former alumni regent Alfredo Pascual for being selected as the next UP president by a majority vote of the Board of Regents (BOR).

The alliance is optimistic that Pascual will deliver significant changes in the University which has since endured President Emerlinda Roman’s six years of autocratic rule.

We have several reasons to believe that Pascual can potentially lead UP back to its proper course as a public service university.

During his brief stint as the alumni regent, Pascual has consistently shown his pro-student stance on several important issues. We remember how Pascual voted to retain former student regent Charisse Bernardine BaƱez’ position in the BOR. Alongside other sectoral regents, he did not attend the BOR meeting during which a proposal to increase laboratory fees and to impose PE fees were set to be approved. More importantly, he has supported the students’ condemnation of the P1.39-M budget cuts on UP and has ever since joined us in asserting for higher state subsidy.

Pascual’s vision statement for the university somewhat coincides with SAKBAYAN’s own vision of a scientific, nationalist and mass-oriented UP education. He strongly emphasizes UP’s “role in the educational, cultural, social and economic development of the country” and defines academic excellence in the context of “addressing societal problems.”

It is refreshing to hear Pascual’s assurance that tuition will not increase during his term. He vows to keep tuition affordable for “qualified students from the mass of our people” and that UP education must be democratized in such a way that the composition of the UP studentry becomes proportioned with the socioeconomic distribution of the Philippine population.

There is much to expect from Pascual but we must not cede our next six years solely unto him. We must remain vigilant and commit ourselves into helping the president-elect by reminding him how he should best lead us. We must continuously assert for our right to student consultation and academic freedom.

Our experiences under Roman’s administration as well as the momentum set forth by President Noynoy Aquino’s abandonment of education have reawakened the militant tradition of the Iskolar ng Bayan. Pascual’s presidency is not his sole doing—it is a victory forged by this upsurge.

The students’ fight against budget cuts, tuition hikes, dorm fee increases, the implementation of large lecture class policy and various forms of commercialization of education and campus repression is the measuring stick by which we assess how Pascual will remain true to his vision of a “great university.”

Our vote of confidence is still founded upon UP’s tradition of serving the people—nothing more, nothing less.

(Source: Facebook page of UP Kilos Na)

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