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UP Beloved is in trouble

Is the University of the Philippines going to pot? Not as in marijuana, Reader. Rather, as in losing all its good qualities, because no one is taking care of it. As in becoming worse, or spoiled, because of lack of care or effort. If it is, is the UP Board of Regents (BOR) part of the problem, or will it be part of the solution?

Only consider: Example #1—the cheating cases. I’ve written about this, Reader. Two cases of Intellectual Dishonesty. These cases occurred last December, were investigated thoroughly and according to Diliman’s Code of Student Conduct. By April, the College Disciplinary Committee had determined that in both cases the evidence was substantial enough for a conviction, a decision that was accepted by the dean, which was, in turn, upheld by the Executive Committee of all deans and directors of Diliman.

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However, UP president Danilo Concepcion (or Danicon), in July, and on appeal of the respondents, reversed the decision in one case, without deciding on the other, earlier case. This reversal was not acceptable, either to the students of the university (who issued statements and rallied against it), or the dean and faculty of the School of Economics, who formally appealed to the BOR to set aside the UP president’s reversal. The University Council also weighed in with a Sept. 9 resolution urging the BOR to uphold the authority of the University Council and Faculty on matters of Intellectual Dishonesty.

Still, the BOR did not make a decision in its meeting last Sept. 26. Instead, we understand that Danicon sent the faculty’s formal appeal “back to Legal.”

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Why would the BOR agree to sending a formal appeal to it back to the legal office, which must have drafted Danicon’s disputed decision in the first place? By agreeing to this action, the BOR is taking the position that the evaluation of a legal office on whether or not the respondents cheated trumps the evaluation of a committee of tenured professors, their dean, and the committee of all deans and directors of Diliman.

Example #2: The appointment of deans. Again, the UP Diliman University Council, in the same September resolution, urged the UP president and the BOR “to recognize the role of Dean as academic leader, first and foremost, and to respect, defend and uphold the recommendations on the selection of Dean emanating from the collegial, participative and faculty-led processes of Constituent Units of the University.”

Yet in a special BOR meeting held last Oct. 11, the BOR disregarded the recommendations of the chancellor emanating from the search processes in two colleges, choosing, in one case, an individual who was the only one among five nominees who had no scholarly achievements (and who was NOT the only one with extensive private sector experience) and, in the other, blatantly going against an explicit statement by the chancellor that the individual (who they still chose) was not suitable for the office. To quote the chancellor: “(he) pales in comparison with (the other candidates) in terms of scholarly achievements. In addition, if you read through the transcripts of interviews with him, you will see why I feel he cannot become dean. Please do not burden and insult the UP Diliman Executive Committee with another political appointee.”

So who are the members of the BOR who are making these decisions? Popoy de Vera, who is the Commission on Higher Education chair and therefore a co-chair of the BOR.

Mr. De Vera boasts a solid bloc of five votes, the scuttlebutt says. These include the three “at-large” members of the BOR appointed by Malacañang—Spocky Farolan of the infamous basketball incident, with the same fraternity ties as Popo (Vanguard); Angelo Jimenez; and Francis Laurel. I understand Farolan’s term is up, and he is serving only in a holdover capacity. The last member of this bloc is the alumni regent, Reynaldo Laserna, who has the same fraternity ties as Danicon. This bloc of five, plus Danicon, seems to have won the day so far.

There are also the three sectoral regents—the faculty, student and staff—who we know have always been voting for the university’s best interests, and the two members of Congress, Sen. Joel Villanueva and Rep. Mark Go, who we also understand have voted based on principle and not on politics.

I call on all UP alumni, nay, on all Filipinos, who know these people, to knock some sense into the heads of the regents who put politics above the university’s interests. UP Beloved is in trouble.

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TAGS: Danilo Concepcion, University of the Philippines, UP Board of Regents
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