UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran

Hulyo 19, 2009

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Setyembre 27, 2007

A progressive socialized tuition scheme for UP’s Centenary

Filed under: Socialized Tuition — up @ 8:30 umaga
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UP ALYANSA’s Open Letter on the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) and Tuition Increase

27 September 2007

The University of the Philippines Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA) reiterates our unwavering call for the institutionalization and implementation of a socialized tuition fee scheme that is first and foremost grounded in equity and at the same time responsive to the dynamic needs of a progressive university. UP ALYANSA believes in the core idea that those who are able to pay must pay and that those who are not so able must be subsidized and given reasonable stipends.

 

While UP ALYANSA understands the rationale of a tuition adjustment to compensate for inflation, the polestar of our campaign has always been for the review, revision and reform of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). UP ALYANSA’s efforts to initiate reforms in the STFAP precede the more recent clamor from other groups brought about by this semester’s tuition increase. As in the past, our resolve to spearhead debate and discussion towards an effective socialized tuition scheme continues and remains unfettered.

The University’s recent experience with the increase in tuition, coupled with the uninspired manner the existing system for socialized tuition is being implemented, poignantly brings to fore several matters that we in UP ALYANSA believe should be the subject of critical discussion among the stakeholders of this University.

I. UP ALYANSA objects to the railroading of the Tuition Increase

UP ALYANSA expresses its disagreement and objection, in the strongest terms possible, on the manner the administration’s program was hurriedly formulated, and with equal haste, callously implemented.

We push for the democratic consultation of important stakeholders

We resent the fact that an important policy, bearing serious repercussions to the UP community, was unilaterally and undemocratically arrived at. The hallmark of a truly progressive university is a democratic and participative process of policy formulation. Students and their parents, who will ultimately bear the heavy burden of this tuition increase, should not be denied the opportunity to voice out their sentiments.

The UP administration argues that consultations with us, present Iskolars para sa Bayan, may be dispensed with as the adjustment in tuition would not affect us anyway. The argument fails. It is a mere attempt to window-dress the undeniable fact that this tuition increase was reached without any consultation with the students. UP ALYANSA reiterates that as members of the student sector we, Iskolars para sa Bayan, are not transient. We can ably represent the voice of the future students and must be given an opportunity to participate. Further, we underscore the fact that the UP administration also did not consult the incoming Iskolars para sa Bayan.

We urge that social justice be placed at the heart of tuition policies

The underlying philosophy behind the STFAP—that is, the equitable distribution of resources in that those who are able to pay are made to pay for those who cannot—must not be used to inveigle the students into agreeing to pay more than what their families can afford under the pretext of benign adjustments.

The evident bias in favor of economists and engineers in the committees responsible for these policies and the belated creation of the review committee for the STFAP are actuations that lead to the inevitable conclusion that the solitary interest of this administration was to augment the meager budget of the University. The new tuition scheme must continue to meaningfully reflect the values of the University and the favored place of the marginalized within UP. Its impact on student demography should be carefully studied. Succinctly, the tuition policy of UP should not be an income generating project. Rather, it should be an evocative means to the higher purpose of achieving social justice.

We assert that the issue of tuition increase should not be delinked with the Revised Excellence Equity Admission System (REEAS)

We assert that the REEAS has significant impact on the tuition scheme and on how the general demographic of U.P. will change. The U.P. administration claims that it balances excellence and equity in its admission procedure. We recognize that excellence is a value that any university or learning institution must have. But we also recognize the need for equity. Under the REEAS, the students from public schools and provinces have lesser chances to enter the university compared to the previous system. The university should recognize that the social structures in place continue to marginalize these students with the failures of the public primary and secondary educational system. With this premise, the university should not institute policies, which would further marginalize these students and narrow the gates to the university. Again, we call on this administration to reexamine its values and priorities in both the admission and tuition policies.

All in all, UP ALYANSA is indignant at the way this administration has railroaded this policy in order for it to be put in place before the centennial celebrations. What would be the use of hastening the putting into place of the new tuition system when it goes against the values of progressive thinking and a pluralist tradition, which we are supposedly celebrating?

II. UP ALYANSA calls upon the U.P. administration to rectify its mistakes

The improvident haste with which the tuition policies are being implemented has led to manifest injustice. We challenge the administration to seriously reflect on these policies and to purposely recast its mold.

We insist that the STFAP Bracketing System should be revised

Under the old STFAP Bracketing System, those whose annual family income range from P0-P130,000 (Brackets 1-5) were given full subsidy that included free tuition and a variable stipend of up to P5,000. The new scheme now in place only grants the same benefits to those whose annual family income is less than P80,000. (Bracket E) The resulting disparity between the old and the new schemes betrays the basic rationale of a tuition adjustment based on inflation. Indeed, as inflation causes the real value of nominal income to plummet drastically, scaling down the ceiling income is inconceivable and unjustified. ALYANSA believes that the threshold annual family income that benchmarks the right to receive full subsidy should remain at P130,000.

Moreover, the entire bracketing system under the new scheme must likewise be readjusted in order to make the system pro-poor. Minimum wage families cannot be stripped-off of the opportunity to send their children to UP as a result of the inequities inherent in the bracketing system.

We insist that the administration invest in the STFAP

This year’s implementation of the new STFAP scheme highlighted the lack of preparation and planning on the part of the UP administration. Information regarding the new system was scant and, when available, was poorly circulated. The mechanism for the bracketing system was not released on time. Further, there have been several complaints that the office in charge of the STFAP is understaffed to handle the new scheme.

The administration must equip those designated to put into place the new STFAP system with adequate resources for effective implementation. The administration must hire more staff to ensure efficiency and to forestall additional burdens on the existing workload of the university registrar.

We insist that delayed paying schemes must be made available to students

UP ALYANSA calls for policies that will realize the clamor for an affordable and accessible quality education in the university. We recognize that some students may not necessarily have the resources to pay the tuition in full come registration time. Monthly or quarterly payment mechanisms should be institutionalized as a standard option for deserving incoming freshman students. Further, the UP administration must work doubly hard to ensure the increased availability and accessibility of student loans. Moreover, UP ALYANSA continues to hold the administration accountable for its promise of increasing the availability of scholarships, student assistantships, student loans and other financial assistance programs.

III. UP ALYANSA proposes corrective mechanisms to address the inequities brought about by the tuition increase and the new STFAP scheme

UP ALYANSA always strives to be constructive in its criticisms. Hence, we put forward the following proposals for the review of the UP administration.

We propose the deferment of the implementation of the increase in tuition and the new STFAP system

UP ALYANSA urges the administration to suspend the implementation of the tuition increase and the new STFAP system until mechanisms developed in consultation with the UP students are institutionalized. We cannot allow the administration to readjust tuition and other fees without any assurance that the previous operational difficulties and the resulting inequalities brought about by the new STFAP will not recur and are sufficiently obviated.

We challenge the UP administration to release data on the number UPCAT passers that did not continue with enrollment for the past years. And, if it is sufficiently shown that the primeval reason for their no show was the new tuition scheme, UP ALYANSA believes that the acceptance of these students in the University should be extended to the succeeding years or until the STFAP bracketing system has been rationalized and finalized.

We propose the creation of a multi-sector Technical Working Group

We in UP ALYANSA propose that the administration constitute a Technical Working Group, in partnership with students, parents and concerned faculty members, to ferret out issues surrounding the tuition increase and the new STFAP system. We propose that the multi-sector technical working group should be tasked with the duty of coming up with a comprehensive implementing program that will ensure that the social justice goals of the STFAP are met and followed through.

We remain unrelenting in our demand for venues where the broader UP community can express their sentiments on this issue. As Iskolars para sa Bayan, we assert our right to participate in determining policies that concern the University. We demand transparency and massive information dissemination. The UP administration cannot shirk on its duty of empowering the students through consultation especially in matters that strike deep into their rights as Iskolars para sa Bayan.

As the whole UP community prepares to usher in our University’s centennial celebrations, UP ALYANSA calls on the administration to reexamine its tuition policy and the new STFAP system. The University’s centennial is an opportune time for circumspect reflection. Our illustrious history cannot be betrayed by policies that curtail greater access to quality education. Policies that seriously threaten affordable and accessible quality education betray UP’s status as the premier state university. This cannot be countenanced.

Click alyansa-position-paper-tfi.doc to download the paper

Setyembre 17, 2007

Et Tu Brod? Searching for Justice Against Fraternity Violence

Filed under: Fraternity Violence — up @ 9:42 umaga

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Agosto 31, 2007

NOT ANOTHER STATISTIC

Filed under: Uncategorized — up @ 12:45 hapon

Another life has been claimed by alleged fraternity-related violence. Another life has been snuffed out by men, claiming to be brothers, yet inflicting pain like beasts. Another life has been sacrificed, killed by a senseless ritual that degrades humanity.

It is ironic to think that our University, hailed as the best hope for our country’s future, can be the same place where these hopes end. Some inflict pain, maim and even kill fellow students, all in the name of brotherhood. It is absurd these barbaric acts exist side by the side with the University’s lofty ideals, an aberration that escapes our intellect.

What makes it worse, is when the indignation and protests have faded, this death will be another statistic in the vicious cycle of campus violence. Forgetfulness and tolerance will replace indignation and protest, until another victim has been claimed.

We are one with Cris Anthony Mendez’s family in their time of grief. Cris’ death is not just their loss; it is also ours, as fellow Iskolars para sa Bayan and members of the UP community. His death is also the nation’s loss; every scholar killed is a part of the country’s hope gone.

We vow not to forget, as we vow to seek justice. Our administration and justice system must ensure the perpetrators of this senseless death pay for their crimes. More importantly, we vow not to let our indignation slip into tolerance. We declare enough. Enough of this violence. Let this death be the last.

31 August 2007

Pebrero 21, 2007

Forge a DEAL for progressive change

Filed under: Uncategorized — up @ 8:58 umaga

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