Tuition hike, Red-tagging issues greet freshmen at Baguio's SLU | Inquirer News

Tuition hike, Red-tagging issues greet freshmen at Baguio’s SLU

Tuition hike, Red-tagging concerns greet freshmen at Baguio's SLU

Student activists at Saint Louis University (SLU) in Baguio City stage a protest on the first day of classes on Monday (Aug. 14), seizing the opportunity to remind new students about the ongoing issues affecting them, | PHOTO: Yvana Abitan

BAGUIO CITY–Several student and youth groups staged a protest at the main gate of Saint Louis University (SLU) here on the first day of school to welcome the new batch of freshmen into the university on Monday, Aug. 14.

Those leading the protest challenged the university’s new students to involve themselves in different in-campus and region-wide issues, from the rising costs of tuition to the political vilification incidents happening in Baguio City.

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“The best way to welcome the freshmen is by introducing them to the militant spirit of the youth in SLU. This way, they know there are students like them who are willing to fight for them and their rights,” Darlene De Leon of the Walang Iwanan Louisian Network (WILN) said.

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In-campus issues

During the rally, the student activists raised the issues of increased tuition and gender sensitivity.

The tuition hike at SLU, pegged at nine percent, is its highest ever in five years and is set to be shouldered by the freshmen in what is termed the “carry-over scheme.”

Kane Taylor, a representative from the school’s Supreme Student Council (SSC) said that Bukas Ph, an organization that partnered with SLU to ease the payment of tuition by loaning money, “further burdened” the students because of its high interest rates.

He also claimed that the administration agreed to lower other fees from nine to seven percent, but that this was still “too steep” for students to pay.

The Innabuyog Gabriela Youth (IGY) said the school administration still resorted to “a strict dress code, dead-naming, and other forms of discrimination that hindered SLU students from expressing themselves.”

“Despite the existence of a gender inclusivity policy, we students and the members of the LGBTQIA+ community within the university still cannot feel its effect,” IGY added.

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Beyond classroom

De Leon said despite the ongoing issues within SLU itself, the freshmen also had to “go beyond the four corners of the university” and take a stand on pressing societal issues.

“There is still the issue of safe spaces and democratic spaces for activists,” she said, citing instances of anti-communist forums being conducted within the university.

The last of the said forums was on March 12 when the police Red-tagged several progressive organizations under the guise of the National Service Training Program or NSTP forum for women empowerment.

When the matter was brought to the city council on April 19, then-SSC president Gabrielle Francisco said those who were present at the event suffered psychological distress since many of them were part of the red-tagged organizations.

Apart from Red-tagging, enforced disappearances such as those of missing activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” De Jesus were also cause for concern, according to progressive group Anakbayan.

The group cited the attacks on indigenous peoples (IP) rights advocates in the Cordillera, such as those of the so-called Northern Luzon 7 and the recent terrorist designation of four IP activists from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. INQ

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TAGS: Baguio, freshmen, Students, Tuition Hike

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