We have to practice what we preach.
In a university that claims to value inclusivity and dialogue, it is hypocrisy to make decisions among the few than the many. This, after Ateneans were apparently misled to think improvements would be made in our academic policies. We were willing to give the admin a second chance to make our entire online experience better, but it seems that this has only been to our disadvantage. On the day that the rights and welfare of students were supposedly celebrated, Ateneans were distressed and betrayed by the very entity that promised to be understanding in this time of crisis—the administration.
Without genuinely consulting students and faculty prior to the announcement, the Office of the Academic Vice President (AVP) yesterday officially amended the schedule of final summative assessments (SAs) for Summer 2020 and the First Semester of AY 2020-2021 (READ: Admin faces online backlash as it sets final tests earlier to December). The said tests have all been suddenly rescheduled earlier to December 2020, causing mass panic among students as they would only have less than a month to prepare.
Since the academic policy for online education makes SAs the sole basis of students’ final grades, students, especially upperclassmen, have expressed that the new memo imposes undue pressure when they have to take several comprehensive major exams within one month. Worse, the memo runs contrary to previous reassurances by the admin that online education in AdDU would be “self-paced” and “flexible,” and that November and December would be used as “quality time to rest” (READ: Tabora clarifies online educ policies, encourages students to continue self-paced learning). While an emergency town hall meeting was held yesterday night, it did not result in any kind of solution apart from making students feel that they were heard.
There is no denying that the online shift caught both the studentry and the administration off guard. This is why it seemed reasonable, at first, for some policies to be changed and improved for the better. But while the admin attempted to revisit its academic policies, the changes they implemented were contrary to the needs of most students. Instead of making things easier, the admin has further complicated students’ current predicament by breaking its promises and pressuring students to comply, even when they are not ready to do so.
It is a betrayal of students’ trust to reassure them at the beginning, only to take back those promises at the last minute. We were made to believe that we had a benevolent and compassionate administration, but with the current developments, we have every reason to speculate if those promises were made sincerely in the first place or were made merely for publicity. The scheduling of exams in December could have been a non-issue had the admin only announced the decision earlier, enough to give everyone time to prepare.
No matter how much the admin claims to have undergone “due consultation” with the SAMAHAN, we question the former’s sincerity of hearing the plights of the students when, during their meeting, the amendment was merely presented instead of proposed. At the end, the admin’s decision overrode those that have already been agreed within the departments. One in particular is within the School of Business and Governance (SBG). Last Monday, the AVP and the SBG Dean had already agreed to exempt the Accountancy and Management Accounting departments from rescheduling all their exams to December, provided they propose a new schedule of taking the exams in December and January. However, on that same night, the University President disagreed to their proposal, insisting that all clusters should take all their exams by December without exemption.
Since the recent memo maintained that SAs can be retaken twice, issues regarding finances also persist with the 500 pesos bother fee that is required for every retake. While we are not new to paying with our every move, this policy is becoming unacceptable, especially in a time of crisis. It is very likely that bother fee payments will translate to fundraising as more and more students take the exams unprepared, having higher chances of failing. The admin must clarify how they intend to use these funds, otherwise it will be an utter inconvenience and insensitivity to the plight of the students.
We remain dissatisfied and disappointed with the decision of the University administration. Similarly, we condemn the lack of consultation from students and faculty. While compromises are currently being made between students and their departments to cushion the effects of the memo, administrators responsible for these mistakes must face the students and be held accountable. Although, with the SAMAHAN, we are pushing for leniency for students who cannot afford taking the exams in December, it is clear that this could have been avoided in the first place if the admin was only keen enough to listen to the students.
Taking the admin at their word, we recognize their attempt to help students clear the latter’s backlogs before the start of the second semester. However, this reveals a more deep-seated systemic problem: who decides for the students? In issues that affect them, shouldn’t they, above all else, have a say?
This situation only proves how out of touch the administration is to the realities of the students. If they indeed value dialogue in their decision making processes, then they must translate it well into policies. Should there be amendments, it must be considerate, not sudden and unexpected. As this betrayal calls into question the very tenets that we were taught to live by, we continue to resist until the policies are just and genuinely pro-student. #AdDUStrike