For the longest time, UPLB and its community has endured an administration that is both blind and deaf. Within 2 terms of serving as the chancellor of UPLB, Dr. Fernando Sanchez Jr. governs an administration that refuses to see the needs of its constituents and refuses to listen to the UPLB community’s calls and demands. The staff, faculty, and students have suffered 6 long years of the Sanchez administration’s lack of action and compassion towards issues both within or off campus, and witnessed his complete disregard for the concerns and welfare of the staff, faculty, and students.
As the period of electing a new chancellor approaches, Sanchez once again expressed his intention to serve as the chancellor of UPLB amidst his administration’s evident inefficiency, apathy, and overall, poor performance.
The Philosophical Society of UPLB and the UPLB Sophia Circle express disdain and vehemently condemns Dr. Fernando Sanchez Jr.’s intent to serve as chancellor for the third time and calls for a leader that will truly serve and cater to their constituents’ needs and demands. As philosophy majors, it is only rational and just to voice out this concern as it is unreasonable for Sanchez to serve as UPLB’s Chancellor for the third time. His track records are ill-suited and contradictory to what a chancellor ought to be.
We stand with the concerned sectors of the campus in ensuring that Sanchez will not be chosen for another term supported by the following grounds:
Lack of Response towards Student Concerns
As of recent, roughly 5,600 students are unenrolled due to the Sanchez administrations’ anti-student policies, now further amplified by the effects of the ongoing pandemic towards the mental, physical, and financial conditions of students. Registration concerns regarding the inefficacy of the Student Academic Information System (SAIS), which was implemented during his term, continue to be rampant and always end up unresolved and dismissed unless acted upon by the University Student Council along with the whole student body. Despite the unceasing calls to junk SAIS, the administration continues to defend it by pinning its flaws on “birthing pains” or by completely disregarding the students’ struggles by saying that it just needs patience and students just need to adapt. The hashtag #JunkSais continues to trend every semester as students have to go through the rigorous process of SAIS, only to end up with underloaded units.
It is also during Sanchez’s term that the Maximum Residency Rules (MMR) and Readmission appellants have peaked, and up to 600 have been recorded as of last August 2018. These 600 students have been barred from their democratic rights to education by his administration. During the dialogues held to address this issue, students whose appeals have been disapproved stated that they received identical letters of disapproval despite having different cases and pleas. This shows that the administration does not even have the decency to review the appeals one by one and even admitted in a dialogue that appeals have been assessed through mere “gut-feelings”.
Other anti-student policies such as “No Late Registration policy,” and “Freshmen recruitment ban” have also been implemented by Sanchez’s administration. Student services continue to decline as during his term, issues of bureaucratic and repressive dormitory contracts and processes arose. There is also an evident lack of student spaces as the Student Union (SU) building remains inaccessible and the officials continue to deprive students of safe and decent spaces to study, practice, and carry on other academic and non-academic activities. Sanchez also tried to remove student representation through the SU renovation which includes the removal of the USC, [P], and TERC offices found at the second floor and relocating them at the Student Center, a building in which he admitted has no specific time frame yet in terms of construction. With all of these happening despite Sanchez’ numerous projects to build and improve infrastractures, facilities, buildings, and public works, it is evident that these projects were merely for beautification, and not really for the consumption of his constituents.
During urgent situations where the USC requests dialogues regarding these student concerns, Sanchez shows his lack of concern and avoids the dialogues by being unresponsive and would just approve a few dialogues over the entire academic year.
Lack of compassion towards employees
Without even giving any work-related subsidy, the administration rushed the faculty to produce course packs in just 2 months. Moreover, they are being required to reply to emails within an hour from receiving it; failure to do so shall be a basis for issuance of a show-cause order to the employee and supervisor concerned. Staff have also been risking their health in order to maintain the campus. This shows how detached and apathetic Sanchez’s administration is from its constituents, because it is not considering the struggles which the employees are facing during the pandemic and did not even consider their welfare.
The administration did not listen to the calls of its constituents to postpone the start of classes despite the fact that not all students and faculty have equal access to resources needed for remote learning. The UPLB Perspective was also barred from entering the dialogues concerning this matter, showing lack of transparency towards its constituents. The UPLB employees deserve a leader who is democratic and listens to what the majority of their constituents as well as decisive when it comes to their responsibilities.
Chancellor Sanchez endangered the lives of our student activists as he allowed the presence of state forces, enabling red-tagging within the campus vicinity, which violates the 1989 UP-DND accord. On two different occasions, red-tagging was blatantly done without any intervention from the Sanchez administration. First, during the NSTP forum held in DL Umali Hall back in March 2019 where high-rank officials of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) red-tagged the university’s mass organizations and student leaders, another was in a large NSTP class where representatives from the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELAC) showed pictures of student activists branding them as members of Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army. Despite the demands made by the student body for the office to release statements condemning these acts, Sanchez remains unbothered and even enabled these acts himself.
Sanchez’s administration also kept their silence amidst the prevalence of issues derailing the UPLB community and even the whole country. While the constituents of the University vehemently condemns Martial Law for the lives it took, Sanchez renewed Marcos’ plaque in the UPLB Main library, and has no real stand on issues concerning it. A pro-marcos activity within the campus has also been conducted back in September 2017 which the administration claimed to investigate, however, no further report has been published with regards to it.
Sanchez also has a pending investigation following acts of corruption he committed over the terms he served in UPLB. Anomalous flow of money has been reported following the alleged personal use of acquired vehicles and personal trips overseas marked as official ones. He is unprofessional to the point that complaints have been raised against him regarding his abuse of power to sabotage the career of his colleagues whom he has personal conflicts with. These must be subjected to further investigation and if proven to be true, these could be supplementary grounds for him not to take post for the 3rd time and face legal cases regarding lobbied complaints and issues of corruption.
The Chancellor We Deserve
With all that has been mentioned above, there are more than enough reasons for us to be united in opposition to the possible third term of Sanchez. We deserve someone who not only promotes innovations and modernization, but also cultivates the sense of compassion, commitment, and loyalty to its constituents. With that, we, as a united philosophical community in UPLB, deem the following as the essential qualities of the next UPLB chancellor:
1. Pro student and pro people
The evident suffering of students in many aspects of their stay in the university is proof of the inefficient, insensitive, and antagonistic leadership of Chancellor Sanchez. UPLB students deserve better services as they strive to achieve greater heights and excellence in not only in the field of academics but also extracurricular activities and in serving the masses. With this, we need a chancellor who understands and believes that education is a right and not a privilege. Education is for everyone, and those who endeavor to pursue studying shall always be given the opportunity to thrive safely in the university. In addition, we need someone who immerses in communities, tries to analyze different cultures and various ways of living, and formulate timely, scientific, and modern solutions to problems. The end of the efforts of the chancellor as well as the university in general shall always be in service of the Filipino people.
We have experienced so much disappointment for years of Chancellor Sanchez’s leadership. His governance inflicted so much distress not just to students but also to the faculties and staff of the university. Being consultative is one of the most important qualities of the next university chancellor because we believe that this will unite the UPLB community towards a common goal and hear varying perspectives from UPLB constituents. Being consultative and available for discourse is a showcase of charity towards other people and hence, raises engagement in creating ideas that are transformative for the entire UPLB community. We need a leader that shall hear the voices of students who relentlessly ask for consideration, inclusivity, and compassion. We cannot let the chancellor decide for us without proper consultation, consolidation, and agreement. Being consultative is a huge step towards achieving a holistic relationship between the one who governs and those who are being governed.
We cannot afford to witness any more breakdowns from students, faculties, and staff of the university just because of the poor services that are rooted in the deficient leadership of the chancellor. Compassion, among many other important qualities of a leader, is something that shall be embodied by whoever is selected as the new chancellor. He should recognize that UPLB students, faculty, and staff come from various backgrounds which is crucial in the process of decision-making. The next chancellor shall also be someone who champions the welfare of its constituents, from basic services like student registration, matriculation, MRRs, among many other things. Compassion is very important since it creates a sense of optimism for the students in terms of pursuing their studies and work towards their goal. We need someone who works towards the general welfare of students and someone who promotes a student-friendly environment.It motivates everyone to do good not just inside the university, but also in all fields of human aspirations.
4. Protects Academic Freedom and promotes Quality Education
This is an essential quality of our next chancellor because it will create a more learning-conducive environment in UPLB. This shall include the making of projects for the benefit of the entire community, especially of the students. Facilities and services that need further improvement shall be prioritized such as modernization of laboratories and provision of quality equipment. Moreover, while we continue to promote the university as open to various projects partnered with local and international organizations, we should look and foresee long term plans and not just create band-aid solutions to existing problems. We need a chancellor who will create programs that are sensible, beneficial, and essential for the UPLB community. Moreover, to remain consistent with our goal as a national university to do service to people, UPLB shall continuously create services that will cater to the public. With this, the next chancellor shall have effective political and diplomatic skills. The right of students to express themselves through raising discourse is something that is crucial and pertinent to good leadership, and that this right shall not in any way be hindered. This way, we can uphold the idea of academic freedom which the faculty and students truly deserve. We need a chancellor who will ensure that UPLB is a safe space for its students and staff.
5. With a sense of personal humility
This is something that we never observed during the years of Sanchez’s reign as the UPLB chancellor. He always turns a blind eye to the concerns being raised not just by the students, but also by the faculty and staff of UPLB. We want a chancellor who steps down from the ivory tower and takes every perspective as something that is contributory to the holistic development of the UPLB community. We deserve a chancellor who does not reject requests for dialogues to discuss the compelling concerns of students. We aspire for someone who respects the diversity of ideas, recognizes the relevance of discourse, and accepts criticisms for the improvement not just for the self, but for the entire university at large. We demand for a chancellor who understands that even the people in the UPLB administration can be wrong and sees the student body as an essential part in decision and policy making of the university. The next UPLB Chancellor should be open to criticisms and be accountable when errors are made by the administration.
6. Appreciates the role of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in the university
The role of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences are vital in our education. With this, we believe that the next chancellor should provide an effort to create programs that will further put emphasis on the importance and relevance of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Scholarships for BA courses are also lacking, thus, we hope that the next chancellor will also be able to create scholarship programs for Arts and Humanities courses.
7. Appreciates the role of athletics and extra-curricular activities in student-engagement
This is something that is usually overlooked due to misplaced priorities by the UPLB admin. Athletics and support for athletes shall be prioritized for the purpose of student-engagement and creating greater campus involvement. Other activities that promote the welfare and well-being of students shall also be supported. This includes training and seminars for students inside and outside the university. We need a chancellor who creates space for students to further cultivate their skills, talent, and athleticism and appropriates proper financial support and aid for our athletes. We demand to allow more org tambayans around the campus. The next chancellor should also create more art spaces and allow the free use of facilities for student activities.
8. Has shown great character in the past, has moral and personal values
It is of no doubt that Chancellor Sanchez has shown us his antagonistic character, an anti-student who turns a deaf ear to the concerns of the UPLB community. With all that has been mentioned above, it is clear that the morals that Sanchez has does not extend to the welfare of his constituents. Why shall we put a person who has proven himself incompetent and numb of the struggles of the people within his jurisdiction, back into the seat of power? The UPLB community deserves someone who upholds not just honor and excellence, but also the virtue of compassion, sensitivity, and concern for his people.
No to Third Term, Sanchez!
The call for an efficient UPLB administration shall continue until its constituents receive and experience what they truly deserve. We have had enough of 6 years of poor governance and lack of concern for its constituents. What is stated above is proof enough that Sanchez is unfit and undeserving to serve another term as UPLB’s chancellor. It is clear that the next chancellor must be someone who understands and is concerned about the demands of their constituents and upholds the mandate of the university to serve the people. We call for the BOR to select a nominee for chancellorship who embodies the qualities mentioned above. As a united philosophical community in UPLB who continuously promotes efficiency in leadership, we will remain committed to showing dissent and to demanding accountability whenever circumstances call for it. No chancellor or nominees will be put into pedestal. Now more than ever, we shall work together to put an end to ruthless leadership and look forward to a better UPLB community.
Sarrol, A. (2020, August 21). Sanchez Legacy: A Tragedy. UPLB Perspective. Retrieved from: https://uplbperspective.org/…/sanchez-legacy-a-tragedy/…
No to Third Term Coalition (NT3C). (September, 2020). Position Paper of the No to Third Term Coalition on Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr.’s Bid for a Third Term. Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/…/1Jf2uNfvJerw8ZlF09AZ…/view…
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