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‘Displaced’ students in UP Diliman

Beata Carolino
Days have passed since the scheduled announcement, but the distribution of dormitory slots to low-income students in UP Diliman remains unclear

HOMELESS. UP students camp out in front of the Kalayaan Residence Hall, while waiting for the results of their appeals for dorm applications. Photo from the UP Philippine Collegian UP Collegian

MANILA, Philippines — While waiting for available slots, students and parents trooped to the entrance hall of the Kalayaan dormitory in the University of the Philippines Diliman. 

A mother from Pampanga stood in for her daughter who got sick after staking out the Office of Student Housing.

Sabi nga niya sa akin, gusto na niyang mag-leave of absence dahil hindi kaya ng katawan niya yung pagod (She said she wanted to take a leave of absence after her body gave up on her due to exhaustion,” she said.

Around 20 other parents have been awaiting the fate of their appeal as their children attended classes. As of July 31, 2015, nearly 300 rejected students filed for appeals.

Days have passed since the scheduled announcement, but the distribution of dormitory slots remains unclear. (READ: UP starts classes with ‘homeless’ students)

Homeless in Manila

This school year, applying for UP dormitories has been a difficult experience for many due to the sudden change in the approval procedures and the the sudden influx of students.

One of the students was Kent Cadalin, an engineering student from Zamboanga. In his 3 years in UP, this was the first time he was rejected for a dorm slot.

“Noong lumabas yung result, hindi ako tanggap dahil 2013 ang sinubmit kong income tax return pero dapat 2014,” Cadalin said. “Sinabi ko agad sa parents ko at pinadala nila the next day kasi malayo. Sinubmit ko yung requirements sa sumunod na batch run pero hindi pa rin ako natanggap.” 

(When the results came out, I was not accepted because the income tax return that I submitted was for 2013, when it should have been 2014. I immediately told my parents, and they immediately sent it to me because our place is far. I submitted the requirements in the next batch run, but I was still not accepted.)

CAMP OUT. Students from the provinces and their supporters camp out near the Kalayaan dorm in UP Diliman in Quezon City as they await the fate of their appeal to be accommodated in dormitories. Photo by Philippine Collegian

Dorm appeals

Dormitory applications were done online in 3 batches: the first was for freshmen, while the second and third were open for all. Each had an appeal process for those who were unable to secure slots and for those who were admitted but could not afford the dorm fees.

Cadalin immediately submitted an appeal. Results were initially set for July 31 but got delayed for several days. Homeless in the city, he sought shelter in the office of the All UP Workers’ Union, where about 20 other homeless students are staying. 

“They did not give any reason. The notification just said ‘we regret to inform you that you did not qualify for a dormitory slot,” Cadalin said in a mix of Filipino and English.

When Caladin’s parents found out he was not granted a dorm slot, they tried to borrow money for their son’s allowance and boarding house fees.

Because of the rising cost of education and living in Manila, Cadalin’s parents told him this may be his final semester in UP.

Hindi namin talaga kaya (We really cannot afford it), said the aspiring engineer.

In the evening of August 5, the list of granted appeals were finally released. Cadalin’s appeal was granted. He was given a slot in a dormitory he chose. 

Appeal denied

Other students like Justine Lazanta, who hails from Laguna, were not as lucky. Under the UP scholarship program, Lazanta belongs to Bracket E1, the lowest income bracket for UP students. 

“I was on time in submitting the requirements. When the result was released on July 22, I was not on the list,” Lazanta recalled.

He was eventually granted a slot, but was assigned to UP’s Centennial dormitory, where monthly rent costs P1,500, one of the highest rates among the dormitories on campus.  

“I confirmed so that I could still appeal and be assigned to a more affordable dormitory. But it didn’t work,” Lazanta said.

Classes have already started on Monday, August 3, but because he could not afford the rent, Lazanta decided to commute to and from Laguna every day.

“Kaya ako nag-appeal kasi bracket E1 lang ako, at hindi namin kaya magbayad. Napakamahal. (I appealed because I’m in bracket E1 and we cannot afford to pay. It’s too expensive),” he said

Camp out

There are 13 residence halls in UP Diliman. Three of them are semi-privately owned: Centennial and Acacia residence halls.

The monthly rate of the Centennial dormitory is P1,500 per month, inclusive of electricity and water. Acacia, the newest addition to UP’s student housing infrastructures, costs P3,000 per month. This is exclusive of electricity, water, and room facilities.

The rates of other UP dormitories such as Molave, Yakal, Kalayaan, Ilang-ilang, and Sampaguita range between P225 to P500 per month, inclusive of electricity and water. Many students prefer to stay in these dormitories. 

Compared to the previous years, dormitory applications were mostly handled by the Dormitory Oversight and Admissions Committee (DOAC) instead of the OSH. DOAC is also headed by the university’s Business Concessions Office head, Racquel Florendo. It was created by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, but there is no student representative in the committee.

While the issue is being resolved, the UP administration is renting out transient rooms — vacated dorm rooms – to interested students. But other students – some of whom came from provinces like Cagayan de Oro, Lanao del Norte, Cebu, and Davao – ended up camping out near the Kalayaan dorm or in offices. — Rappler.com