3 excluded St. Paul University Philippines students decry action taken by school
MANILA, Philippines — Three of nine students who were excluded from the St. Paul University Philippines in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan decried on Sunday the action taken by the school administration against them following a mass e-mail and social media campaign they launched last June asking for some changes in the school’s policies.
Rina Bautista, a second-year student, is among the nine excluded after organizing the mass e-mail and social media campaign.
In their campaign, Bautista said she and the other excluded students asked the school to impose an “academic freeze” or the cancellation of formal school amid the pandemic, a tuition freeze, the removal of unnecessary miscellaneous fees, the non-mandatory enrollment for the summer term, and the sustainment of teaching and non-teaching staff.
However, the excluded students said the school administration saw the mass email campaign as a reason to remove them from the school.
“We were all hopeful sa limang request namin, transparency ang pinaka-hinihingi namin. Transparency, compassion, ‘yun lang naman ang hinihingi naming lahat,” she said in an online press conference.
( We were just asking for transparency and compassion)
“Hindi namin kaya na magpatuloy na lang habang maraming naiiwan. We fought for inclusive education pero sa gitna ng pandemya, kami ‘yung na-kickout, kami ‘yung na-exclude,” she added.
(We can’t go on knowing many are being left behind. We fought for inclusive education but amid the pandemic, we were kicked out, we were excluded.)
She said she was excluded last Sept. 21 after her participation in the campaign was found to be “blatantly offensive and disrespectful.”
INQUIRER.net tried to get the side of St. Paul University Philippines by e-mail but has yet to receive a response.
Wildae Trinidad, a second-year student, was also excluded from the university after she was found culpable for grave misconduct in organizing the campaign.
She recounted that after the campaign, students were asked to write incident reports. She added that those who were tagged as organizers of the campaign were instructed to go to their campus and explain their participation in the campaign.
“The meeting was full of incriminating questions. No space was left for students to assert their concerns and defend themselves. Most of us who were interrogated were not even given our right to a counsel,” Trinidad said.
She denounced their exclusion from the school, saying that they were only asking for transparency and “genuine pro-student policies and mechanisms.”
“Tanaw namin na ang pagsulat sa administration tungkol sa aming mga lehitimong hinaing ay repleksyon ng mga estudyante na gusto magpatuloy sa edukasyon kahit sa gitna pa ng pandemya,” Trinidad said.
(It is our view that when we wrote to the school administration and aired our legitimate concerns, it showed that students still want to continue with their education amid the pandemic.)
“Hindi dapat parusahan ang mga estudyante dahil dito,” she added.
(Students should not be punished for this.)
Claire Bulan, who is also among those who were excluded, said students have been seeking to dialogue with the school’s administration for more than a month but to no avail.
She said they even approached the Commission on Higher Education to broker the dialogue between them and the school administration.
Bulan said they would be filing an official complaint with CHED Central Office to “compel them to look into the students’ concerns and look into our case.”
“We asserted our freedom of expression in utilizing democratic spaces to engage with the administration is not a crime and especially not grounds for exclusion,” she said.
In a statement sent to INQUIRER.net, St. Paul University Philippines said the mass email campaign organizers were given due process as they were invited to explain their side and were heard.
It insisted that the social media posts of the students have put the school in a “bad light” and “besmirched” its reputation as well as its administrators and faculty.”
St. Paul University Philippines said the students perpetrated “acts of malicious or intentional misrepresentation of facts involving school matters, which are considered as major offenses in the school’s student handbook.
“By disseminating derogatory, unverified, untruthful, and uncorroborated allegations to discredit the University, the said students perpetrated acts of malicious or intentional misrepresentation of facts involving school matters,” it said.
“Actually, the acts committed by the said students also constitute cyber liber, but the University has not filed a criminal case, hoping and praying that these misguided students will soon realize their wrongful acts and learn how to respect the rights of other people and the Institution, and practice the proper values and cyber ethics in the future,” it added.[muf]
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