Thursday, October 12, 2006

Support Statement for the Change of the Office of Student Affairs into the Dean of Students

The UP Manila University Student Council (USC) supports the change of the Office of the Student Affairs (OSA) into the Dean of Students of UP Manila. Historically, the Director of the OSA has always been an indispensable ally of the USC in fighting for the democratic interests of the Iskolar ng Bayan. With the change from Director to Dean, it shall give more meaning to this partnership.

Nonetheless, the USC expects that the change shall not only be in name but also in terms of policy direction. The Dean of Students must continue to share the aspirations and struggles of the Iskolars ng Bayan in pursuit of their right to education and academic freedom. As such, we would like a Dean that will unequivocally oppose the impending System-Wide Tuition Increase from 250 pesos per unit to 1000 pesos per unit, notwithstanding other proposed laboratory fee increases in the coming semesters. The basis for this is clear. As Dean of Students, one does not hold merely an administrative position nor serve as a conduit between the UP Manila administration and the UP Manila students. In order to truly live up to its name, the Dean of Students’ policy directions must be skewed in favor of the interests of the Iskolars ng Bayan, while continuing to discharge the usual functions of the OSA such as scholarship and financial services, counseling, among others. On the other hand, the Dean of Students must also help serve as guarantor to the seven other colleges regarding the use of equipment and facilities in the colleges so as to waive the collection of fees whenever there are student activities. For the longest time, a very big obstacle in the growth and creativity of meaningful student activities has always been the high rental fees of venues and equipment, despite the preference for these facilities for being closer in proximity to the students. Finally, the Dean of Students must ensure that academic freedom and freedom of expression are respected and recognized in all colleges of the University. Student Organizations have been finding it immensely difficult to enter classes and discuss critical issues and projects, especially in the health-related colleges. The University is not a mere factory of brilliant health professionals bereft of a social-critical conscience. They must know the social conditions from which their professions exist. Only the Dean of Students can help the USC create a University policy towards this end.

In the final analysis, the USC supports the change the change of the OSA into the Dean of Students, provided that by changing the name of the office, significant reforms in principle and policy shall be made in favor of the interests of the Iskolars ng Bayan.

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