UPLB students hold #JunkSAIS protest on first day of classes

Raisa Serafica
UPLB students hold #JunkSAIS protest on first day of classes
The eUP project team claims that the SAIS was attacked to make the service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic

MANILA, Philippines – More than 800 students from the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) skipped the first day of classes on Wednesday, August 3, to protest against the controversial Student Academic Information System (SAIS).

They called for the scrapping of SAIS, holding UP President Alfredo Pascual accountable for the glitches experienced by students during the registration period: wrong scholarship bracketing, failure to enlist in required classes, among others.

SAIS, a data management system that seeks to “integrate and harmonize the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and system across all constituent universities (CUs) of the UP System,” is part of UP President Alfredo Pascual’s P752-million flagship program called eUP.

Students camped out early Friday to Saturday, July 29 to 30, in order to secure slots in their preferred classes. This triggered a UP-wide movement to junk SAIS. (READ: 4 things to know about eUP’s SAIS

“With the failure of SAIS, many students still lack or do not have units. Add to this is the shortage of slots which will not accommodate the demands of the students. These are manifestations of the public-private partnership programs and an evident form of commercialization of education,” said Merwin Jacob Alinea, the UPLB university student council (USC) chairperson.

‘Disservice to students’

SAIS replaced SystemOne, the homegrown system used in UPLB, among other online registration systems used across different campus units. 

“This is a disservice to the students, stripping them of their right to free and accessible education,”  Alinea added. 

The protest coincided with the annual “Org Fair #UPLBUnite: Sama-samang Sumulong tungo sa Libreng Edukasyon. (Let’s collectively move forward to attain free education).” 

Students marched to the Office of the Chancellor for a dialogue with Chancellor Fernando Sanchez and eUP Project Director Jaime Caro. However, only a select number of members of the media were initially allowed to participate in the dialogue. 

At 5pm, Wednesday, other protesters broke into the Office of Chancellor, according to USC Councilor Stephen Villena.

 

“Los Banos has this very unfortunate experience last weekend, but if you look at the other campuses using SAIS, they are very happy using the SAIS and they were able to enroll,” Caro explained to the protesters. 

Caro also clarified that only P37.7 million was used for SAIS, adding that the funding is good for 5 years. 

‘Denial of service’ attack

In a statement, the eUP project team confirmed that the SAIS was subjected to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, an attempt to make the service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic.

According to them, this is the reason why SAIS faced several glitches during the enrollment period. 

While the system has long been secured from any DoS attack from known overseas attackers, the eUP team said the system was configured to treat traffic coming from the Philippines as valid and hostile.

They added that investigation shows that the system was attacked from within the Philippines, culminating in about 4 million hits in a span of two days. During the dialogue with the students, Caro said they already have the IP addresses of those responsible for the attack

“This consequently overloaded the system and rendered it unstable. In response, access was temporarily confined within the UP network to prevent possible damage,” eUP said in their statement. 

The team condemned the alleged attack, saying they stand in solidarity with all the affected members of the UP community. – with reports from Jaira Roxas/Rappler.com

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.