Some of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines—colloquially called the Big Four—have called for a nationwide academic break with a “No Fail” policy, following the back to back to back typhoons that have very recently battered the country.
Last week, 581 Ateneo de Manila University students threatened to withhold submission of school requirements starting November 18 in protest of the government’s “criminally neglectful response” to the recent typhoons.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque responded with a warning: “Babagsak kayo, dahil bilang dating propesor, kahit anong dahilan ang sinasabi niyong strike, ‘pag ‘di kayo sumunod sa academic requirements, mawawalan kayo ng kinabukasan, ‘di kayo makaka-graduate sa Ateneo.”
Upon learning about this, an irked President Duterte threatened to withhold the University of the Philippines’ P18.6-billion funding should they go through with the academic strike, as they do “nothing but recruit communists.” This statement drew flak from the UP community and some senators. Roque however, reported that he clarified to Duterte that the actual proponents of the strike were Ateneo students, not UP students.
Soon after Atenean publication The Guidon published the declaration and was circulated on social media, the University of the Philippines (UP), De La Salle University (DLSU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) followed suit.
Over 3,000 UP students and faculty called on university administration to end the semester at once; a petition was signed by more than 200 faculty members by Monday night.
DLSU students likewise signed a system-wide petition that called for a two-week break, which would not only cover synchronous and asynchronous classes but also university activities such as tuition fee collection and online pre-enlistment for classes. They also asked that faculty and staff must still be paid their wages within this period.
UST suspended classes from November 16 to 21 as did Ateneo. DLSU had eased the workload and even encouraged faculty to forego synchronous sessions for the week.
Makabayan bloc solons in the lower house urged DepEd and CHED to note the call for a nationwide academic break, and put forth a resolution to “demand the immediate declaration of a national academic break…in consideration of the physical and mental wellbeing of students and teachers and their families, especially those affected by the typhoons’ onslaught.”
Photo: LiCAS News Philippines