SSC and R4E Protest New Tuition Fee with USC Students
Photo by Lance Matthew Pahang
On May 8, 2019, the students of the University of San Carlos (USC) wore black shirts and chanted outside the school grounds to protest the tuition fee repricing, which has been dubbed as the “new tuition fee” by the administration. The mobilization was organized by the university’s Supreme Student Council (SSC) and the Rise for Education Alliance (R4E).
The “Black Shirt Wednesday” mobilization was a culmination of efforts by the SSC and R4E to eliminate the new tuition fee, which started from a meeting with the university’s administration during the first semester to the CHED dialogue last April 10, 2019.
The mobilization simultaneously took place in the Downtown Campus outside the drug store and the Talamban Campus outside the portal gate. Outgoing SSC president Johanna Veloso and the head of R4E Megara Lim spearheaded the mobilization in Talamban.
Veloso gave an emotional speech about students dropping out from the university and how they felt trapped by the new tuition fee set by the administration late in the first semester. She assured the students that the SSC and R4E gave relevant information to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to “review the standards of our tuition fee.” She also stated that this issue does not only affect the students but also the teachers as they are not seeing any increase in their salaries despite the hike of the fees.
Lim reminded the protesters that the administration did not properly inform CHED about the new tuition fee, a revelation that was brought up during the CHED dialogue, pointing out that the new tuition fee is not justified as the facilities in the university are yet to be fixed or upgraded.
Newly elected SSC officers also took the stand against the new tuition fee. Newly elected councilor Stacie Cayanong said that the “fight for students’ rights is the fight for the Filipino people” and the gathering is an act of solidarity for the students who cannot afford the tuition fees. Fellow elected councilor Klark Kent Co spoke on behalf of the elected president Charlene Dasig as she was not present due to health reasons. In her speech recited by Co, she said that an “increase in tuition is not an increase in the stature of the future” and she demanded that the fees should be affordable to the students so there would be more of them to help “set the Carolinian landscape and the Philippine landscape.”
On the question of why the mobilization took place during finals month, Lim stated they “gave the administration enough time to recap and review all their statements and finally listen to the students.” She added however, that “it’s been more than a semester [and] they still haven’t done anything since [the CHED dialogue].”
In an article about the updates on the new tuition fee in the April 2019 issue of Today’s Carolinian, Fr. Aleksander Gaut, SVD said in an interview that there would be no tuition fee increase in the next academic year. However, Lim feared that the incoming freshmen might suffer the same situation if efforts to continue protesting against it do not take place. Veloso said, “If wala pa tay madawat na mga response from the admin and from the CHED, then we will continue to question the tuition fee increase. [If we do not receive responses from the admin and the CHED, then we will continue to question the tuition fee increase.]”
Veloso strongly vocalized that the new tuition fee is not just a problem of the Carolinians but also for schools with similar problems regarding the hike of their tuition fees. Veloso stated that if the Carolinian community “start to oppose this repressive policy, other schools will take the initiative to follow their steps.”