A NEW LOW: UST profs give bonus points to anti-RH students
- A whole new low. Higher Education anyone?
UST profs give bonus points to anti-RH students[image:
GMANews.TV - Tuesday, February 22
- IM Story<http://ph.news.yahoo.com/gma/20110221/tph-ust-profs-give-bonus-points-to-anti-d6cd5cf.html>
A youth group expressed its disapproval of the alleged credits given by some
University of Santo Tomas (UST) teachers to students who oppose the
Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
In a statement, Akbayan Youth claimed that certain UST teachers gave a
"voluntary and optional assignment" to their students to oppose the
Reproductive Health bill in exchange for extra credit.
"Students... were allegedly asked to refute the pro-RH position of Akbayan
on its Facebook page in exchange for 'extra grades,'" Akbayan said in a
statement posted on its Facebook page. "Some of the students who made the
said posts admitted this."
In an interview with GMA News Online on Monday, Akbayan Youth
Secretary-General Cheann Matriz said they noticed the comments several days
after Valentine's Day, when Akbayan distributed free condoms at a public
market in Quezon City.
*"'Yung reactions nila were against the activity and the RH bill. 'Yung
ibang students hindi raw sila happy with the event (giving away free
condoms). May nagsabi pa na Akbayan is promoting premarital sex,"* Matriz
(Their reactions were about the activity of distributing condoms and about
the RH bill. Other students said they were not happy with the event. Some
even said that Akbayan is promoting premarital sex.)
Akbayan members who were moderating the Facebook discussions noticed that
students who were posting their anti-RH views were leaving their full name,
section and school.
For example, Denice Sharina Lao, who left a post on Akbayan's Facebook page
on February 15, said she thinks giving away condoms to teenagers will give
the impression that "sex with protection is okay even if you're not
"The more you promote contraception, the higher chances (sic) of passing on
AIDS and STDs since more and more people will engage in pre-marital sex,"
At the end of her post, Lao introduced herself as "Lao, Denice Sharina P.,
"2CA2" refers to her year level, the course she is taking up, and the
section she is in - in which case, she is a second year Communication Arts
major from Section 2.
GMA News Online tried to get an official reaction to the Akbayan statement
from the University of Santo Tomas through Public Affairs Director Giovanna
Fontanilla, but Fontanilla said UST cannot issue a statement about the
"optional assignment" of some professors as of posting time.
Journalism student Ann Remedios Dungca Reyes posted her opposition to
Akbayan's distribution of free condoms on the group's Facebook page, even
likening the use of condoms to eating ice cream with a sock on it. *Screen
grab from Akbayan's Facebook page* The students who posted on the Akbayan
page introduced themselves as coming from the following courses and
sections: "2LM1", "2Pol2", "2JRN1" and "2CA2".
A UST student identified the following course abbreviations for GMA News
Online: Legal Management (LM), Political Science (Pol), Journalism (JRN) and
Communication Arts (CA).
Akbayan claimed that most of the comments came from the four sections, which
may have been the classes assigned to do the optional homework.
It was also noted that the students were not members of the Akbayan page and
never participated in other discussions before they posted their comments.
Matriz said some students admitted that they were asked to post anti-RH bill
comments on the Akbayan page for "bonus points."
"It's a sad thing because they make their students disagree (to the bill)
without discussing the bill itself," Matriz said.
Some students said they refused to do the assignment even if it meant they
forgo the bonus grade.
"I am one of the students of UST who had the said task, but I intentionally
didn't comply because I feared [that] regardless of my positions and
arguments on the issue, the integrity of my opinion can be [questioned]
because of the said incentives," said Aaron Gabriel Santos.
UST student Aaron Gabriel Santos said he intentionally did not comply with
the 'task' assigned by his professor. Screen grab from Akbayan's Facebook
page In its statement, Akbayan said although the activity was for an
"optional grade" and not a requirement for their classes, the activity
privileges a certain position over another and hinders the expression of a
"That it takes place in an academic setting where the ferment of free
opinion should be given premium, and that the clear asymmetrical power
relations (teacher-student) were deployed, makes it even more
reprehensible," Akbayan said.
UST supports CBCP stand on RH bill
According to a 2008 article from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the
Philippines (CBCP) website, the "Pontifical and Royal University of Santo
Tomas will focus on the promotion of 'faith and life issues.'"
In the same article, UST's Fr. Filemon de la Cruz, Vice-Rector for Religious
Affairs, added that UST has a responsibility to defend and promote the
church's teaching and stand on pro-life matters.
The article also said UST will continue to support the stand of the Filipino
Bishops against the reproductive health bill. No new statement regarding the
RH bill has been released by UST since then.
Divided on the issue
Matriz said a source from UST told Akbayan that the faculty is "divided"
when it comes to the issue of the RH bill.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), a national
association of Catholic educational institutions in the country, said they
subscribe to the CBCP's stand on the RH bill.
However, CEAP President Fr. Gregorio Ba�aga told GMA News Online that they
have not given directives to their 1,360 member schools regarding the
schools' position on the RH bill and the way the bill is taught to the
Ba�aga said the matter will be taken up in their next board meeting in
University of Santo Tomas is a member school of CEAP. Other Catholic
universities like the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University
are CEAP members as well.
Not all UST profs are anti-RH
Gene Michael Atanacio, who introduced himself on Akabayan's page as a UST
professor, said not all UST professors are against the RH bill.
"UST fosters academic freedom just like other colleges and universities. UST
has a strong conviction in teaching Christian values as taught by the
doctrines of the church and on the Pope's stand on issues like this," he
Professor Gene Michael Atanacio said that despite UST's stand on the RH
bill, the university fosters academic freedom. Screen grab from Akbayan's
Facebook page Atanacio refused to name the professors who gave the
assignment to the students who posted anti-RH remarks.
"As for the issue of professors asking their students to post here (Akbayan
page) for the incentive of a good grade, I do agree it is not right," he
said. "I asked (sic) Akbayan not to blame ALL professors of UST... not all
professors in UST are anti-RH bill."
Teachers challenged to a debate
Akbayan said they are challenging the UST teachers who gave the assignment
to a debate on the issue of reproductive health.
"We challenge them to stop using their students as transmission belts of
their own opinions," Akbayan said.
Matriz added that the group will hold fora where students can learn about
the RH bill if their school or university refuses to discuss the bill inside
"Our next step is to find these professors, engage them in debate, and
hopeully they can open their classes to us," she said. "We challenge
professors to open their classes so we can state the merits of the bill." �
VVP/HS, GMA News
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