3 expelled St. Paul University Philippines decry action taken by school

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MANILA, Philippines — Three of nine students who were expelled from the St. Paul University Philippines in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan decried on Sunday the action taken by the school administration against them following a mass e-mail and social media campaign they launched last June asking for some changes in the school’s policies.

Rina Bautista, a second-year student is among the nine who were expelled after they organized the mass e-mail and social media campaign.

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In their campaign, Bautista said she and the other expelled students asked the school to impose an “academic freeze” or the cancellation of formal school amid the pandemic, a tuition freeze, the removal of unnecessary miscellaneous fees, the non-mandatory enrollment for the summer term, and the sustainment of teaching and non-teaching staff.

However, the expelled students said the school adninstration saw the mass email campaign as reason to remove them from the school.

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“We were all hopeful sa limang request namin, transparency ang pinaka-hinihingi namin. Transparency, compassion, ‘yun lang naman ang hinihingi naming lahat,” she said in an online press conference.

( We were just asking for transparency and compassion)

“Hindi namin kaya na magpatuloy na lang habang maraming naiiwan. We fought for inclusive education pero sa gitna ng pandemya, kami ‘yung na-kickout, kami ‘yung na-exclude,” she added.

(We can’t go on knowing many are being left behind. We fought for inclusive education but amid the pandemic we were kicked out, we were excluded.)

She said she was expelled last Sept. 21 after her participation in the campaign was found to be “blatantly offensive and disrespectful.”

INQUIRER.net tried to get the side of St. Paul University Philippines by e-mail but has yet to receive a response.

Wildae Trinidad, a second-year student, was also expelled from the university after she was found culpable for grave misconduct in organizing the campaign.

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She recounted that after the campaign, students were asked to write incident reports. She added that those who were tagged as organizers of the campaign were instructed to go to their campus and explain their participation in the campaign.

“The meeting was full of incriminating questions. No space was left for students to assert their concerns and defend themselves. Most of us who were interrogated were not even given our right to a counsel,” Trinidad said.

She denounced their expulsion, saying that they were only asking for transparency and “genuine pro-student policies and mechanisms.”

“Tanaw namin na ang pagsulat sa administration tungkol sa aming mga lehitimong hinaing ay repleksyon ng mga estudyante na gusto magpatuloy sa edukasyon kahit sa gitna pa ng pandemya,” Trinidad said.

(It is our view that when we wrote to the school administration and aired our legitimate concerns, it showed that students still want to continue with their education amid the pandemic.)

“Hindi dapat parusahan ang mga estudyante dahil dito,” she added.

(Students should not be punished for this.)

Claire Bulan, who is also among those who were expelled, said students have been seeking to dialogue with the school’s administration for more than a month but to no avail.

She said they even approached the Commission on Higher Education to broker the dialogue between them and the school administration.

Bulan said they will be filing an official complaint with  CHED Central Office to “compel them to look into concerns of the students and look into our case.”

“We asserted our freedom of expression in utilizing democratic spaces to engage with the administration is not a crime and especially not grounds for exclusion,” she said.

/MUF

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