UP Diliman faculty to vote on calendar shift

UP Diliman will issue a decision on the academic calendar shift after a 3-day faculty referendum and survey

PROTEST. Faculty members of UP Diliman who are against the calendar shift writes their protest on an Oblation model. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman administration is holding a referendum among faculty members on the academic calendar shift despite the fact that the faculty’s University Council had voted “no” on the plan as early as December.

Diliman is the only UP campus that has not yet decided on the shift since it has not yet completed consultations. The 7 other constituent units of the UP System will adopt the shift starting academic year 2014-2015. (READ: UP class opening shifts to August in 2014)

Following the public forum last February 10, the administration is now conducting a 3-day faculty referendum and survey to “assess the sentiment” of its regular faculty members – assistant professors, associate professors, professors – and instructors. 

Votes will be canvassed on Thursday, February 27, and Diliman will issue a decision on the shift after the referendum.

In a press conference on Monday, February 24, a group of faculty members resisting the shift urged their colleagues to vote against the academic calendar change. 

They believe the administration has not presented any compelling reason to implement the change. 

‘Deception’

UP President Alfredo Pascual earlier said the shift is “part of the continuing efforts of UP to develop into a regional and global university and to maximize the opportunities offered by ASEAN integration and global educational partnerships.”

Emmanuel de Dios of the UP School of Economics, however, said internationalization should be a result of better teaching and research, as well as improved university facilities.

“UP performs badly internationally due to failure [in providing] a sufficient atmosphere, funding, and facilities for research…. ‘Di ko maintindihan saan galing yung idea na isang malaking hadlang ang academic calendar sa internationalization (I can’t understand where the notion of the academic calendar hindering internationalization comes from),” he said. (READ: CHED: School calendar shift not for all)

Even the ASEAN economic integration in 2015 should not pressure higher education institutions to make the shift since “2015 should be viewed more as a milestone year, a measure of a work in progress,” Eduardo Tadem of the UP Asian Center said. He was quoting a study by the Asian Development Bank and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Trying to link the academic calendar to internationalization, Tadem said, is the UP administration’s “magic formula” to push for the shift.

“From what I see, there’s a certain deception that is taking place. None of of us are against internationalization per se, none of us are against calendar shift per se, but to connect the two is, for me, a major deception on the part of the UP administration, and that is totally unacceptable for an academic community,” he added.

Until the administration presents a more solid data, the faculty members urged the Diliman community to continue critical discussions on the issue. The student council will issue their official position after their General Assembly on Monday afternoon. 

Due process?

DISCUSSION. In a press conference on Monday, February 24, six faculty members urge further critical discussion on the issue. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

While they are not against the referendum, the professors opposing the shift said it raises a question of university governance.

“We believe that with the holding of this referendum, to some extent the integrity of the University Council (UC) and its mandate as the voice of the faculty on this issue are undermined,” said Marivic Raquiza of the UP National Center for Public Administration and Governance.

The
 UC
 is 
composed
 of 
all 
regular 
professors, 
associate, 
and 
assistant 
professors 
of 
the 
29
 colleges,
 schools
, and
 institutes of UP Diliman, 
including
 the 
UP 
Integrated 
School.
 According to UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma, the UC membership is at 1,111 as of July 1, 2013.

The council decided against the shift in a meeting December last year, but the total number of votes cast was less than 13% of the total UC membership (51 
in 
favor,
 73
 against, 
25
 abstentions).

“Whatever decisions emanating from the University Council does not sit well with the Diliman administration or the higher administration, is it correct for the latter to conduct a referendum with the possibility of overturning and overriding the University Council decision? Does this not set a dangerous precedent?” Raquiza added.

Regardless of the the 3-day referendum, the faculty members said they will bring the decision-making back to the University Council.

They also want other constituent units to rethink their decision, and “not allow ourselves to be rushed by the UP administration into the implementation of a proposal that deserves a more critical discussion and analysis.” – Rappler.com

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