Following almost a week-long outcry from the student body, University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ grants appeals against rescheduling examinations earlier to December 2020 and apologizes for his administration’s shortcomings.
In a dialogue Monday morning between the central administration and SAMAHAN, Tabora rescinded Academic Vice President (AVP) Memo 2020-18 by allowing ‘special scheduling’ for students who want to take exams after December.
Tabora’s notes from the dialogue said that it was “an exercise in open and courageous communication, with both sides expressing themselves honestly, often with tears.”
“…as Renz had apologized for his shortcomings, Fr. Joel also asked forgiveness of the students for mistakes and shortcomings for which administration was responsible for,” the notes read.
Outcomes of the dialogue
While students who plan on taking exams after December may communicate with their respective Deans or Chairs for special scheduling, Tabora encouraged students who are ready to take their SAs to continue taking them in December to help ease their backlogs.
The admin further recommended that SAs be taken at the end of each semester, contrary to the current Primer on Academic Policies which allows SAs to be taken within one academic year.
Taking these into consideration, Tabora’s notes said that the Primer will be revised after “discussion and approval in a future dialogue.”
“Unless otherwise revoked, the provision that summative exams can be taken at the end of an online course or within one academic year after the course stands,” it read.
The notes also clarified that the retake fee of PHP 500 is not to be paid individually but will be divided among retakers as compensation to teachers for constructing a new exam.
‘Victory’ for the students
Among all the clusters, the previously issued memorandum hit the School of Engineering and Architecture (SEA), and Accountancy students the hardest. Josh Daquipil, the SEA representative, mentioned how seeing the struggle of his fellow constituents is what pushed him to continue fighting with the students.
“It is my duty as the SEA Representative to provide a spotlight for their voice in the Ateneo, especially since they are not the only ones experiencing difficulty,” Daquipil said.
Daquipil also added that the overruling of the previous memorandum allowed the students to no longer be pressured to work within the context of the deadline that was set, seeing that a ‘one size fits all policies’ is not as efficient as one may think.
Meanwhile, Accountancy Representative Rhoi Verallo shared how the sentiments of the Accountancy students served as his power and motivation to continue pushing for an appeal, amid the frustration he felt on the slim chance of being heard.
“But just when I was on the verge of giving up, I realized that this fight was never about me. It was always about the 1,094 students in my cluster who have cried for justice since the start of these online classes. Their stories of struggles fueled me to continue pushing and lobbying for what they deserve,” Verallo said.
The Accountancy representative further asserted that everyone deserves to be treated as students and not as robots. The university must not expect their students to program themselves and to speed up their learning process just because of the limited time.
“This ‘victory’ will always be remembered because this is a clear reminder that nothing is irrevocable when the students speak up and fight against any injustice that impedes their development,” he added.
The #AdDUStrike movement supported by the student leaders was also brought to the attention of the administrators, to which they were “hurt and dismayed,” according to Tabora’s notes.
SAMAHAN President Renz Lacorte said students’ concerns stem from their experiences and truthful takes of what has happened since the beginning of the academic year.
“These are their narratives, and as [a] student government, it is our duty to elevate these truths,” Lacorte said.
Lacorte also highlighted that the conversation reaffirms the values that the SAMAHAN and administration want to promote–meaningful dialogue and mutual collaboration.
“It is important because it honors the student body, that their voices are valid, and that they need to be heard. It also reaffirms the value that we give to student narratives and opinions in the dialogue table, as we try to come up with inclusive policies,” he said.