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StudentsRights and Welfare Committee Proposal

Prepared by:

Solomon G. Vicencio

Councilor, University Student Council 2012-2013

University of the Philippines, Diliman

RATIONALE

As an institution mandated by its constitution “to strive to defend and promote the rights and general welfare of the University studentry and the Filipino people,” it is the University Student Council’s duty to be at the forefront of upholding students’ rights and welfare. This responsibility of the University Student Council, however, is not just based on the USC Constitution alone, but, rather, also stems from the nature of student councils as institutions in which their constituents have placed their trust upon to protect and serve the interests of the students. A council composed of only 34 members, though, would be hard-pressed to achieve its goal of a just society wherein students’ rights are recognized and respected without the aid of the thousands upon thousands of other Iskolars ng Bayan, themselves.

As such, it is one of the main thrusts of this proposal to empower and involve students to better forward relevant campaigns, deliver meaningful services, and generally just promote students’ rights and welfare not just within the university, but in the greater sphere of the country, as well.

COMMITTEE STRUCTURE

STRAW Committee Head

- Secretary

- STRAW Volcorps Head

- Logistics Head

- Publicity Head

- Admin/UP Office Coordinator

- Campaign Coordinator

PLAN OF ACTION

STRAW Awareness

One aspect that can easily be overlooked in the efforts to uphold students’ rights and welfare is awareness on what STRAW actually is. Before the University Student Council can dream of ever completely protecting the rights and welfare of every student, students must first get acquainted with what, exactly, those rights are and why they are worth fighting for. By educating and informing students of their rights, the USC can proactively uphold students’ rights and welfare more efficiently and effectively by equipping them with the knowledge to identify STRAW violations and act against them.

REFRESHENT (Rights Education for Freshies, Shifties, and Transferees)

- Being new to the university or to their colleges, freshies, shiftees, and transferees are some of the most vulnerable to STRAW violations

- Include student rights education in FOPs

- Provide handouts on STRAW during enrollment and FOPs, or through coordination with local councils

REtweet (Rights Education Through Twitter)

- Harness the power of Twitter and other forms of social media to inform students of their rights

- Daily/periodical tidbits on students rights to generate a good amount of buzz and a constant stream of information

- Also a venue to answer questions and concerns related to STRAW

Weekly STRAW Releases

- Possibly in newsletter or infographic form

- Contents may include STRAW news, primers on STRAW issues, updates, and other pertinent information or tidbits similar to those in REtweet

STRAW Forums/Round Table Discussions

- Release and disseminate important discussion points to the public for the benefit of those who weren’t able to attend

- If possible, document through video, as well, not just for archiving purposes, but also for

Student Concerns and Feedback

As the committee tasked with upholding the rights and welfare of the students, the STRAW committee should, of course, be able to respond to STRAW-related concerns and grievances from the students. In order to fulfill this role to the students, it is then incumbent upon the STRAW committee to provide appropriate and accessible venues for students to air their concerns and grievances. Also, given that it is a right of the students to have a say in their University Student Council, these mechanisms should also

be utilized to collect feedback and suggestions for the USC to truly ensure that the voice of each and every UP student is heard by their Council.

STRAW Caravan (STRAW booth in different venues around the university)

- In order to more effectively reach each and every student

- To be deployed in different events such as enrollment and UP Fair, as well as for a few days to around a week’s time in different colleges and dormitories

- May be used to:

o

Generate grassroots support for STRAW campaigns

o

Obtain feedback and suggestions for the USC

o

Collect and address STRAW concerns

o

Answer STRAW questions

o

Help with consultations

o

Disseminate any STRAW-related information or materials by the USC

o

Make students more aware of existing or planned STRAW efforts by the USC

o

Bolster STRAW committee volunteer corps membership

USC STRAW Desk

- Similar functions as the STRAW Caravan, but housed in the USC office

- Also a venue to forward student concerns to appropriate institutions/offices that may be of help and service to students with concerns (with the coordination of the USC STRAW Committee)

STRAWnline

- Online branch of the USC STRAW Desk sharing similar functions

- In order to more effectively inform more people of STRAW issues and matters

- May also be used as an archive of sorts that students can look to for STRAW-related materials released by the USC

Ugnayan para sa Karapatang Ganap

- Compile list of offices that are/may be related to STRAW, or that may be coordinated with for STRAW matters (e.g. DLRC, OASH, OSH)

- A list of offices that may be approached may also be released to students to inform them of what institutions and offices may aid them should any STRAW concerns arise (may be incorporated with SHOP, or the Student’s Handbook of Opportunities and Privileges)

- Periodic dialogues with offices to maintain relations and to raise any possible concerns

Campaign Formulation and Execution

These are some of the general guidelines to be followed in most of the campaigns by the STRAW committee to encourage student awareness and involvement, and to stimulate grassroots support for campaigns.

General Process

- Hold information drives by utilizing discussion groups and the other mechanisms described above in order to raise awareness on the different issues the STRAW committee will tackle

- Use discussion groups, surveys, and the feedback mechanisms described above in order to obtain input from the students in the formulation of campaigns

- Hold open meetings with concerned students in the formulation of campaigns for a greater sense of student involvement

- Utilize as many appropriate means as possible in pushing for STRAW campaigns (e.g. mobilizations, lobbying, letter/email campaigns, signature campaigns, etc)

- Teach Me How to Lobby (workshops on lobbying)

Campaigns and Issues

In upholding the rights and welfare of students, much of the activity of the STRAW committee will understandably involve the tackling of STRAW issues through campaigns.

Legislation Check

- Review and campaign for existing laws and bills that safeguard the rights of students

- Disseminate information on the legal basis of STRAW and make students aware of their rights that are protected by law (through the different means described in previous sections)

- Lobby for the revision of laws and bills that are found to have flaws or contentious provisions that affect students’ rights and welfare

External STRAW Issues

- Raise awareness on STRAW issues that occur outside of the University (e.g. increase in private school tuition, anti-student provisions in student handbooks, discrimination, etc.) and act on them when appropriate

- Coordinate with other schools, as well, to formulate other means of ensuring that other students can be made aware of their rights, and of upholding STRAW in general

Specific Campaigns

Education Reform

- UP and other state universities and colleges lack the required funds to provide quality and accessible education to the Filipino people

- Assert that education is a right for each and every Filipino

- Push for a higher budget for education year round, from before the DBM level to after the release of the budget so that, hopefully, the education sector can reap the benefits the following year

- Exhaust all possible means in the pursuit of a higher budget for education, including, but not limited to:

o

Encouraging the sending of letters/emails and the making of phone calls to members of the DBM, members of the Congress, members of the Senate, and other public officials involved

o

Mobilizations

o

Online campaigns to raise awareness and to depict the state of UP and other SUC facilities with the insufficient amount of funds made available to the education sector

o

Staging a research fair to exhibit the benefits of tertiary education and why tertiary education needs more funding

Tuition

- Object to any planned tuition increases unless proper and comprehensive consultations have been conducted and unless it is proven to be overwhelmingly justified

- Demand greater transparency on finances, especially on the aspect of where the additional income generated from the previous tuition fee increase has been/is being spent

STFAP

- Not all students are immediately made aware of the existence of the STFAP and of the application process

- Information dissemination on the existing system to increase awareness on the program, especially for freshmen, in order to broaden the range of its beneficiaries

- Release guides on the STFAP process, especially noting new changes to the system and to the requirements to avoid confusion among the ranks of the students

- Stage consultations and call for reviews of the current STFAP system in order to make the process easier for students, as well as for greater efficiency

- Formulate a proposal for STFAP reforms with the involvement of the students that calls for, among other things:

o

Transparency in the bracket assigning system

o

Minimization of unreasonable or unnecessary requirements

o

Faster and more efficient processing

Scholarships

- Compile information on the different scholarships currently being offered and disseminate this information through print (before and during enrollment), as well as online

- Create, maintain, and constantly update an online database of these scholarships, classifying and tagging each under different categories for easier searching and viewing

Student Loans

- Obtain feedback on the current student loan system and lobby for the incorporation of the changes/improvements obtained from the consultations into the loan system

- Propose a more varied range of student-friendly loan schemes , such as a “study now, pay later” scheme

- Propose for more forgiving repercussions for students who are unable to pay their loans on time and allow for more time for students to pay their loans

Student Manual

- Previous efforts to draft a Student Code and a Student Handbook have culminated into what is now known as the Student Manual

- It is in the studentsbest interests to have a drafting process that is transparent and open to ensure a very student-friendly manual

- Release primers, conduct discussion groups, and utilize information dissemination mechanisms outlined above for an informed student body

- Push for consultation sessions and meetings to be open to the public

- Inform students of said sessions and meetings and encourage attendance

- Encourage students to send letters and make phone calls to the Office of the Chancellor for any provisions they may disagree with or have comments on

- Continuously provide updates for the benefit of the UP students

Tambayans

- Although we students assert our right to tambayans, many organizations in UP, though duly recognized, still have not been provided with tambayans

- Raise money for the creation of additional tambayans (in coordination with the Spec and BSS committees)

- For organizations to be displaced and transferred into new venues for tambayans, coordinate closely with the organizations and the admin to ensure that their rights are protected in the transfer

Org Recognition

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Obtain feedback on the existing org recognition process (in coordination with COFS)

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Reevaluate existing requirements on org recognition to see which ones are still necessary

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Draft a proposal with the participation of orgs and students to be presented to the Univ. OSA, and, when applicable, local OSAs

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Explore possibility of having students handle the recognition process, as is practiced in UP Manila

RGEP

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In light of the implementation of new required GE subjects, initiate more consultations for the primary stakeholders, the students, in order to identify possible improvements that can be made for the betterment of the RGEP

Mandatory ROTC

- In the interests of academic freedom, object to the passage of the bills in Congress that seek to make ROTC mandatory

Campus Safety and Security

- Students have the right to a safe and secure academic environment

- In recent months, a number of violent incidents have occurred within the campus, including the stabbing in the USC office, robbery cases, cases of frat-related violence, and the recent shooting of a professor’s house, showing the lack of security measures in the campus

- Demand for greater security measures and transparency in the finances related to these measures

- Demand for student consultations in the formulation and implementation of new security measures for the campus

- Stage own consultations and formulate proposals for security measures

- Disseminate warnings and updates for very recent incidents for the safety of the students

- Help in the dissemination of information regarding class suspensions (e.g. in the case of typhoons) or of safety guidelines in events similar to the Chem. Pav. Fire

- Coordinate with the administration and local councils for the creation of emergency plans for each building in UP

- Provide workshops for safety tips and self-defense to empower students

Frat-Related Violence

- Pursue justice and accountability for incidents of frat-related violence in the university by exploring the possibility of filing charges against those involved

- Propose stricter measures against frat-related violence on the part of the admin to prevent, or at least discourage, future incidents

Human Rights Violations

- A number of recent cases of human rights violations against students have been reported

- Pressure the UP administration to take responsibility for the safety and security of UP students outside the university, especially for those on field trips, camping trips, or field work

- Coordinate with departments that regularly send students out in the field in an effort to formulate guidelines to aid in the safety and security of students

- Coordinate with the SLAAC and other legal offices to address future cases of human rights violations

- Remain open to student victims who may require assistance and aid them by forwarding them to institutions or offices that may help them, and by continuously following up their cases

- Make students aware of the assistance that the USC can provide them and of other actions they can take should they experience any such violations

Students’ Welfare

Pahinungod

- Provide different avenues for the students to realize their potential, share their skills and knowledge, and contribute to society through volunteerism (e.g. lessons, tutorials, and workshops for public school children; visits to homes for the aged; hospital visits; etc.)

SHOP (Student Handbook of Opportunities and Privileges)

- Compile a list or directory of available services to students within the university

- Create and disseminate a handbook of these services for the welfare of the students

- Possibly in coordination with the BSS committee