The Ateneo de Davao University administration held a consultation earlier today on the proposed 5% tuition and miscellaneous fee increase next school year. Simultaneous with the consultation, students marched inside the campus calling for a “genuine consultation” on the said hike.
The #UsapMunaTayo solidarity action was organized by political parties Buklurang Atenista (Buklat), Piglasapat, and Bahaghari after only five students were allowed to represent the whole student body in the consultation. The said activity aimed to “demand the administration to defer any decision until a student consultation will be genuinely held.”
Representatives from the three political parties gave their messages, emphasizing that the voices of all the Ateneo students should be heard during the consultation, especially that the Tuition Fee Increase concerns them mostly.
The consultation was attended by different administration officers, the deans of the five schools and the law schools, and the five student representatives, specifically SAMAHAN Central Board (SCB) President Michael Leyson, SBC Treasurer Melzar Galicia, the General Assembly of Class Presidents (GACP) Chairperson OIC, Campus Clubs Organization (CCO) External Vice-President Rexor Amancio, and Education Rep. Jason Cyril Tajores.
According to Leyson, there is a proposed 5% increase in the Tution Fee and another 5% increase in the Miscellaneous Fee.
Galicia said that during the consultation, the financial statement for School Year 2015-2016 was presented along with the projected financial statement for the upcoming semester.
“Ipinakita doon na because of the K-12, mag-lessen to 6,700 ang students in college whereby this school year, mayroon tayong average of 8,800 [students]. So, expected na magkaka-deficit ang school natin this year. That is why they would like to propose a tuition fee increase,” Galicia explained.
For Galicia, the amount of increase is justified, as the teachers, in their contract, is promised an increase of 2.5% of their salary every year.
“90% of the tuition fee increase will go to the teachers,” Galicia added. “Even if mag-increase man ta ug 100% sa atong tuition next year, the deficit that our school will incur will still not be subsidized by the increase.”
He said that there is a plan to set a quota for Senior High School Director Ricardo Enriquez on the number of K-12 applicants to be enrolled to “offset the deficit.”
But not only the tuition fee will increase. The Miscellaneous Fee will also increase by 5%.
“It has been five years na, 2011 pa since we last had an increase in our miscellaneous fee,” Galicia said.
According to him, the increase is necessary because the prices of the merchandises are also increasing, as justified by the administration.
Leyson explained that the approval of the said increase still lies on the Board of Trustees. Galicia said that the decision regarding the increase will be given on Feb. 18.
Call for genuine consultation
“Hindi dapat limang [students] lang ang haharap sa admin. Dapat lahat ng estudyante makaalam kung ano ang nangyayari,” Meggy Zea Monterverde, a representative from Buklat, expressed.
She explained that the Solidarity Action they conducted was just one of their actions to call for a genuine consultation.
“Nag-usap-usap ang mga presidential candidates ng tatlong political parties na after this, gagawa ng joint resolution sa SAMAHAN na dapat every time gagawa ng decisions ang admin, hindi lamang sa tuition fee increase. Dapat may say always ang students kasi they have the right to know kung ano ang nagaganap dito sa ating school,” Monterverde said.
Amara Abrina from Piglasapat, the SAMAHAN General Secretary who is currently on leave, said that the administration itself chose the five officers to represent the students during the consultation. However, she expressed that she is against the idea that only the voice of the five representatives will be heard.
“We really want a student government not just for the students but with the students,” she said.
Not anti-admin, just pro-students
“Hindi po kami anti-admin, pro-students lang po,” Monteverde said when asked to give a message to the administration. “Ang gusto lang namin is open kayo (administration) for consultations. Kung mayroon kaming questions and clarifications, sana sagutin niyo ng totoo. Ilabas lahat ang dapat naming malaman.”
She also encouraged her fellow students to be more involved and knowledgeable about issues like the TFI.
“Makialam at manindigan. Dapat hindi tayo matakot na tanungin ang admin kung saan napupunta ang mga binabayaran natin because it is our right. Tama na ang pagpapahirap sa ating parents. Tama na ang pagmahal ng ating tuition fee. Maging kritikal at i-scrutinize natin ang mga patakaran na binibigay nila sa atin,” she added.
She also clarified that the said activity should not be used as part of the campaign for the incoming Presidential elections.
“We are here to serve the students. Alisin muna natin ang ating self-interests dahil ang pinu-push forward natin dito ay ang interest ng mga estudyante at ang awareness sa tuition fee increase na magaganap. Sana hindi lang dito matapos ang ugnayan ng tatlong political parties,” explained Monterverde.
Leyson: Forum will be conducted
“On our end as a student government, we raised a concern if it is possible for the finance office, for the University to conduct a forum or assembly with us, the Samahan Central Board, for the students so that we will have a consultation in terms of the breakdown of the increase so that students will know the reasons why there is a need to increase, where is our money going,” Leyson said.
He added that the request was granted and the finance office is willing to partner with SCB to conduct a dialogue with the students. He said that there is no definite date for the dialogue, but they will most likely conduct it before the second week of February.
He said that the consultation conducted earlier was just one of the consultations.
“Until the Board of Trustees approve of this budget proposal for next school year, the finance office is still open for consultations with different stakeholders,” he added.