A group of students of the University of Santo Tomas sought for the suspension of the university’s online class programs amid the novel coronavirus pandemic via an online signature campaign.
The UST chapter of the League of Filipino Students initiated this online petition through Change.org on April 15 wherein a four-point outline of their demands were crafted for the benefits of the students and the teachers.
WHAT ARE THE THOMASIAN 4-PT DEMANDS?
These are the collective calls of the Thomasian community! Let us continue to fight for our wellbeing, livelihood and democratic rights!
— League of Filipino Students – UST (@LFSUST) April 15, 2020
This petition came after the university announced that it would continue its online classes for graduating and non-graduating students until the end of its second semester.
In the schedule posted, the online classes for graduating students will end on May 16, 2020 and their final exams are slated on May 18 to 23. Non-graduating students will end their semester on May 23 and will take their final exams on May 30.
Such decision was believed to be no longer conducive to all members of the student body, the LFS-UST said in the petition, as it sought for “compassion” for the remaining duration of the enhanced community quarantine.
“Yes, we must strive for competence. But in these extraordinary times, what we need most is compassion—compassion to those who don’t have the same means and capacity as others. We must commit ourselves to serve the marginalized and collectively act to uplift the lives of every Filipino from this crisis,” part of the appeal read.
Several students have also echoed this on local Twitter through the hashtag #CompassionForThomasians.
this university is trying to show na kaya natin maging productive and learn despite the health crisis. in reality, online classes are unproductive and a waste of time and effort. masabi lang na nagklase, masabi lang na may nagawa#CompassionForThomasians#NoStudentsLeftBehind https://t.co/BzHDbQW88S
— yvonne #OustDuterte (@yvonnerollan) April 14, 2020
The Luzon-wide quarantine directive strictly prohibited all types of social gatherings and mass transportation as part of the national government’s stringent measures to curb the transmission of COVID-19 in the country.
The Commission on Higher Education previously encouraged educational institutions to come up with alternative solutions including online classes.
Ateneo de Manila University recently heeded to its students’ needs and decided to give them passing marks, refunds to tuition, and automatic promotion the next school year.
Requests to the UST administration
As of press time, LFS-UST’s online petition earned 9,575 signatures.
The Thomasian students’ demands are:
End the semester, suspend online classes and thesis defense
Stable and reliable internet connection, well-being of the students and their families, and other financial problems are the primary concerns the students and their parents have raised to the university for consideration.
“Students and their families, teachers, staff, and workers are now focused on their health and basic needs amidst the absence of immediate medical solutions and aid (financial or otherwise) in the fight against COVID-19,” the group said.
Refund underutilized tuition of students
The group pointed out that the fees paid by the students for the semester, which include laboratory and other miscellaneous fees, were not used since the quarantine was imposed.
“Students and their families, teachers, staff, and workers are now focused on their health and basic needs amidst the absence of immediate medical solutions and aid (financial or otherwise) in the fight against COVID-19,” it said.
Ensure the salaries and benefits of teachers, non-teaching staff and health workers employed in the university
The salaries of the university workers, particularly the teachers and other staff members, should not be compromised during this crisis. The LFS-UST also hoped the university would provide for the needs of their health workers.
“The University should also help in demanding and facilitating the government’s cash assistance program for its employees (CAMP, TUPAD, or any applicable government assistance), especially displaced workers (“no work, no pay” scheme),” the group said.
Promote student empowerment
The LFS-UST also emphasized the importance of student participation in policy-making whether it may affect them directly or not.
“The University should promote openness and cooperation, and show compassion to the needs and demands of its students and the Thomasian community as a whole.”
Show cause notices vs students
Meanwhile, the National Union of Students of the Philippines also called on the UST administrators to listen to the legitimate calls of its students and practice compassion amid the health crisis.
In a Facebook post, the group said students who have spoken against the UST’s decision to carry on with the semester through online classes “have reportedly received show cause notices saying that their actions may incur disciplinary action.”
“This is a form of student repression and a manifestation of UST’s refusal to heed its students’ concerns,” the NUSP said.
It likewise urged students to sign an online petition created four weeks ago.
This was also course through Change.Org that states the five-point demands of student councils. These are the following:
- Suspend online classes and ensure inclusive educational alternative
- Stop collection of school fees and impending tuition and other school fees increase
- Sustain teaching and non – teaching staff salaries
- Preserve student representation through genuine student councils
- Stop rail-roading anti-student, repressive policies
“These demands represent the unity of students in response to the health crisis we are facing right now, which encompass our solidarity with the demands of other sectors of the society,” the group’s petition read.
More than 2,800 people have since signed the online petition of NUSP.