“It was an attempt to fool the students.”
Thus said incoming Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council President JC Valeroso regarding the conduct of fee increase consultation in the University of Sto Tomas a week ago.
The UST Administration issued a notice calling for a dialogue on February 26 between the Student Council Presidents and the Rector to talk about myriad issues and grievances with regard to tuition. It turned out that the dialogue was a tuition increase consultation for the next school year. The time and venue of the February 26 consultation was not stated in the said notice.
At the end of the one-sided meeting, the UST administration posted an 8.4 percent increase in their tuition.
“It was their long-crafted tactic to be able to implement anti-student policies. With this, the administration has once again committed blatant crime of depriving us, the students of our right to be consulted and right to be informed,” Valeroso said.
The questioned tuition increase in UST came a week after the controversial suspension of CHED Memo Order No. 14, which provided for a ceiling on the allowable school fee increase. CHED Chairman Carlito Puno has earlier defended their action saying that the suspension of the Memo is only for one year. In lieu of CMO 14, an old 1998 guideline was re-implemented – CMO 13.
“We already expected this to happen because of the suspension of the tuition increase ceiling – tuition increases will shoot up. Unfortunately, CHED is the one which encouraged the private schools for their ulterior motive for profit,” NUSP Executive Vice President Diana Directo explained. “Worse, that is at the expense of the students and their parents,” she added.
According to the student leaders, “the UST Administration violated both CMO 14 and CMO 13, but this whole hullabaloo can be attributed to the whimsical and biased action of CHED,” Directo said.
The Thomasian student leaders who led the campaign against the incessant fee increases were charged with violations against the Student Conduct and Discipline, particularly prohibiting students from engaging in assemblies, boycotts, and marches. However, it seems that they are far from being cowed.
“We will file counter-charges against UST for implementing an unconstitutional policy. We are, in fact, getting more support,” Valeroso finally said. ###