NEWS | TL;DR: summing up the UP Manila All Students Town Hall Meeting
By: T. Habal
The University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) held its All Students Town Hall Meeting yesterday, June 30, from 2:00–5:00 PM.
The event was held on Zoom, where 212 out of 251 registered participants attended the meeting. Meanwhile, the event was also live streamed on the Facebook page of the UPM University Student Council (USC), where an estimated 7,000 people followed along.
Spearheaded by the UPM USC, the meeting assembly consisted of the university’s students, organizations, local student councils, and administrative staff. The administrative staff presented the university’s academic plans, student support programs, & college-based consultation meetings for Academic Year (AY) 2020–2021.
UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, together with Vice President for Academic Affairs Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Philip A. Gonzalo, began by stating that the planning and implementation for AY 2020–2021 are time-bound but iterative. They concluded that the UP System should shift from face-to-face teaching to remote learning due to the pandemic.
The three discussed the distinction between blended learning & asynchronous learning. Blended learning includes remote and face to face learning. On the other hand, asynchronous learning only includes remote learning by means of handing over learning materials. Stating courses that may be delivered in a blended way, she also explained that asynchronous learning need not to be always administered online due to a heterogeneous, or diversified, set of students.
Bautista added that the UPM administration had prepared for the shift to remote learning, which involved the modification of the academic calendar, assessment of student and faculty load, program and course redesigns, and suspension of various academic rules and policies.
She also noted that the admin is studying support for educational data-packs for students, and is piloting the implementation of an in-house developed library service, subscribing to databases or collections for all constituent universities (CUs).
Students were told that the first semester for the AY 2020–2021 would run from September 10 to December 18, while the second would run from January 8 to May 5.
Concerning students’ general welfare, Gonzalo elaborated on the university’s Student Support Programs, emphasizing the importance of the home as the primary learning environment under the new normal.
Gonzalo cited four new programs under self-paced learning: academic instruction; active involvement and leadership; safety, health, and dignity; and accountability and restorative justice. He also emphasized the reliability of the current enrollment and registration processes, learner’s capacity to cope with remote requirements, and student’s anxiety on the availability of financial support.
Afterwards, questions and concerns were entertained for the rest of the town hall meeting. Some matters discussed included the enrollment process, student’s location, internet connectivity issues, feasibility and flexibility of online classes, blended learning for selected courses, laboratory classes and hospital internships, student assistance programs (SAP), future graduation rites and procedures, exemptions of the Return Service Agreement (RSA), rules on maximum residency, and the administration’s protocol for students who contract COVID-19. The questions were compiled from the USC’s pre-event survey and live questions from the audience.
The speakers expansively told the audience that they were carefully implementing processes and continuously adjusting to the demands and needs brought by the pandemic.
At the end of the open forum, Gonzalo oriented the audience on college-based consultations. He introduced the consultations as a way to articulate concerns more effectively. These consultations will be held through online platforms and facilitated by the local college student council.
The meeting adjourned at 5:05 PM.