I DON’T know when the University of the Philippines began to turn all high-and-mighty on us, but somewhere between the case of Kristel Tejada and the UP Manila Political Science students not being allowed to graduate for late payment of tuition fees, between the inexplicably horrid new UP Varsity logo and the decision to concede to a calendar shift to cater to international students, somewhere smack in the middle of all that, UP lost us.
Or maybe we lost UP. Not sure which is which.
As of June 23, 7:30 p.m., news is that the 27 UP Baguio students from the College of Arts and Communication (CAC) have been allowed to graduate from the University. It is said that the Board of Regents has decided in favor of the students. One hopes this is true.
This will not erase the difficult stretch of time since May 19 for the 27 students and their families. May 19 was when the students were told that they lacked required General Education (GE) subjects to qualify for graduation. Note that they did not lack units; they lacked certain basic subjects like English 1 or Communication 1 or History 1 in place of which they had taken other GE subjects under the Revised GE Program (RGEP) of UP.
This is to say that these students had to deal with two different GE programs, two different checklists of subjects they needed to take: an old one called the RGEP, and a new one called “hybrid” which was first implemented in 2011. And since then until the present, the students had to deal with an old and a new checklist, without being told (as per the press release of UP Baguio itself dated June 23) by their College which one they should be following.
Obviously, this was a case of lack of advisement, and certainly the University Council of UP Baguio should’ve been able to take a stand for its students, especially since CAC itself admitted that they were at fault here, too, failing to advise and monitor the students.
Instead, it seems that UP Baguio just decided to be mean, asserting that 74 other students did not have trouble dealing with the shift from RGEP to the “hybrid” curriculum, so why would these 27 be excused for having failed to pick the correct checklist? That there seemed to be some suspicion here is beyond me: Why would students decide NOT to take the subjects required of them? Why would you skip such basic subjects as English 1 and Comm 1?
But also: how would you qualify for graduation if you in fact don’t have the skills you should’ve learned in these basic subjects? That these students already qualified for graduation, with some graduating with honors even, should’ve already told the UP Baguio admin that they deserved to graduate, and that they need not be given undue stress about an administrative failure.
A failure, by the way, that need not have made it to media, because the UP that I know is one that nips problems like this in the bud – a measure of its own well-placed conceit, its sense of what’s right and wrong and justice – and decides in favor of students instead of making them suffer and putting their integrity into question.
But maybe that’s just me.
What’s in a logo?
There were many things wrong with the change in the UP Maroons logo, least of which was how we were later told that it was still “in process” and “evolving.”
And while it might have been prematurely released – it was supposed to be shown to stakeholders and the athletes first before it was released to the media – it was College of Human Kinetics (CHK) Dean Ronnie Dizer himself who told ABS-CBN that the new logo could not use the UP Oblation anymore (CNN Philippines, 20 June).
Even without the new logo, this would already get the attention of UP athletes, students and alumni. For how can one even reconfigure the Maroons logo without The Oblation? That’s like Ateneo without the Eagle, La Salle without the Archer.
That the new logo was released ahead of time though might be a blessing in disguise. Because that draft logo reveals how problematic it is for the UP Admin to change the symbols of the University without proper consultation with the community. It also reveals that they are not being transparent about what exactly is going on: Since when have we been disallowed from using the Oblation? And pray tell why?
The grapevine has it that it’s really about copyright issues, and Oblation sculptor Guillermo Tolentino has been dragged into the mix. Well, tell us what the problem is exactly, and let’s have a discussion about copyright claims over institutional symbols. Discussions and openness, truth and freedom, used to be the touchstones of a UP education. One cannot understand why this admin cannot be open and transparent about changing the Maroons logo, why they decided not to have a discussion about it before they began changing it.
Especially since if this draft logo is any indication, they obviously need all the help they can get. It is a badly conceptualized Maroons logo, without the vigor and power, the tension and struggle that the image of The Oblation holds. As with any institutional symbol, The Oblation is irreplaceable. For any UP administration to imagine that they can keep the community of students, athletes and alumnus from asking about the whys and wherefores of this change, is a measure of its conceit.
Or maybe just its cluelessness? We are certainly not a University of cowards, as Chancellor Michael Tan has said. But much may be said about our conceit.