PUP students block 'stricter dress code' proposal

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2019 11:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2019 02:29 PM

Mandatory random drug testing, higher GWA for Latin honors to push through 

PUP students from first to sixth floor of the west wing part of the main building toss some clothes away on August 5, 2019. The Catalyst

MANILA — Student leaders of the state-run Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) blocked Monday the inclusion of "stricter dress code" in the final version of the revised PUP student handbook.

"Napag-usapan naman na na itong 2013 [student handbook] 'yung gagamitin pa rin sa dress code policy," PUP-College of Communication councilor Claire Lopez told ABS-CBN News Tuesday. Lopez was one of the student-leaders who attended the August 5 meeting with the PUP officials.

Members of the university's executive committee and select student leaders held a consultative meeting on Monday to discuss 3 heavily opposed sections in the 2019 PUP Student Handbook—mandatory random drug testing, new dress code, and higher general weighted average (GWA) for Latin honors.

The Catalyst, the official student publication of the PUP, earlier reported that 15 representatives from various student organizations were invited to hear their side in the finalization of the new student handbook, following a string of protests. 

The dialogue between university officials and students resulted in the revision of the proposed dress code.

Based on the now-junked dress code pushed by the university, "Every PUP students shall dress up with dignity and respect and must adhere to the conventions of decency and proper grooming."
 
It removed the phrase "according to his/her individual taste" based on the original version and added that wearing short shorts, micro mini skirt, hanging blouses above the navel, spaghetti blouses, tube blouses, sando, “and the like” are prohibited.

After hours of negotiations, both parties settled to adopt the Title 4 Section 6 of the 2013 edition of the PUP student handbook. It states that:

"Every PUP student must dress up according to his/her individual taste but he/she is required to adhere to the conventions of decency and proper grooming," citing no specific dress rules.

Lopez said that in spite of the forestalled admin-proposed dress code, the state university will enforce tighter implementation of the said section of the handbook.

"...[D]ahil bagong handbook na siya... mas hihigpitan na nila 'yung implementation no'n, hindi na katulad dati," she said.

PUP president Emanuel De Guzman said in a separate interview with ABS-CBN News that it will now be up to professors and security personnel on what to consider "offensive" grooming since, he said, it is no longer specified in the agreed dress code what is considered a "decent" attire.

"Kapag ang teacher found them offensive because of what they wear, the teacher can tell them to go out [of the class]," De Guzman said. "This is against them, akala nila kakampi nila e, kasi in-enumerate [na] namin 'yung [mga] bawal sa following decency and proper grooming." 

"Huwag silang mag-alala, di naman kami konserbatibo," he added. 

Acts of protest were seen Monday afternoon, with students from first to sixth floor of the west wing part of the main building toss some clothes away.

 

Mandatory random drug testing 

The mandatory random drug testing is consistent with the directive of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memo requiring Higher Education Institutions to conduct drug test among college students, De Guzman said. 

"We have to comply mandatorily." 

Part of Rule IV Section 8 of the CHED Memorandum No. 18 stated that “Pursuant to Section 36 (c) of RA 9165, all HEIs are mandated to implement a mandatory random drug testing of their students, consistent with these implementing guidelines and other relevant rules and regulations, after observance of consultation and other similar requirements. . . .”

Lopez said they fear that drug testing may target student activists, adding that it seems like the suspended Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is being brought inside the university. 

“Parang dinadala lang ‘yung Oplan Tokhang sa PUP…”

De Guzman denied the accusation and said they will employ the scientific process of random sampling.

“We are going to take 10,000 members of the sample from a population of more or less 65,000 [students] spread across the branches and campuses taken as clusters,” he said.

But De Guzman later clarified that they will get a sample size of 1,000 students from the population of the main campus, since it is the only branch that will undergo the mandatory random drug testing.

"We will begin from a list, kasi gano'n naman ang random sampling e. . . that's the best way. . . . Pero binigyan namin dapat ng spread ang branches kaya lang di namin kayang kumuha e, walang pera e. So ang ira-random test lang namin ay ang main [campus] pero supposedly, it should be done also in the branches and campuses."

The PUP System has 21 branches and campuses all over Luzon.

Higher GWA for honor distinction

Once the finalized version of the university’s 2019 student handbook is approved by the Board of Regents, PUP students will need to push harder in their studies as a higher general weighted average (GWA) for Latin honors will soon be in place.

2013 PUP Student Handbook: 

Summa Cum Laude – 1.0000 to 1.2000 
Magna Cum Laude – 1.2001 to 1.4500
Cum Laude – 1.4501 to 1.7500

Proposed PUP Student Handbook (2019 revised edition):

Summa Cum Laude – 1.0000 to 1.1500 
Magna Cum Laude – 1.1501 to 1.3500
Cum Laude – 1.3501 to 1.6000

Page 35 of the 2013 PUP Student Handbook. Screengrab
Page 21 of the Proposed PUP Student Handbook (2019 revised edition). Screengrab

Lopez told ABS-CBN News that a university official said that PUP has been “overproducing” honor students and they have been receiving feedback from companies that these students who graduated with honors were “not deserving.” 

PUP admin said the implementation of higher GWA could improve the quality of education at the state university, Lopez added.

She asked the executive committee at the time that if the PUP, in return, were producing quality professors. 

“Sa side n’yo, kayo po ba nakakapag-produce po ba kayo ng quality education through professors?” Ang pinakani-rebut lang nila sa akin ‘e kasi kapag may ganyan kapag may mga nanghuhula, nangroroleta, or hindi pumapasok, i-report n’yo kasi agad…” the second year student leader said.

PUP students have been able to rate, comment and report their professors or instructors at the end of each semester through its Student Information System or SIS. 

Meanwhile, De Guzman said raising the required GWA for academically excellent students may contribute to the attainment of quality education. 

“One of the factors ng—sabi nila kasi ‘di naman ‘yan ang nagde-determine ng quality education ‘yung pagtataas ng GWA… sabi ko there is a weak correlation between the two if you raised the bar ng GWA it doesn’t follow that the quality of education will also be raised to the same direction, oo nga, pero it can contribute... and it will give prestige to our honors,” the top university official said.

“Of course the quality of education depends on the quality of the teachers and the facilities and also of course the perseverance of students. . . pero malaking factor talaga 'yung teacher,” he added.

Local publications defunded?

A former editor-in-chief of The Catalyst, De Guzman said that under the Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, only one student publication was given a funding. 

“Ang babayaran lang ng CHED ‘yung Catalyst, which is the official student publication of the university. ‘Yung mga college [publications] hindi babayaran. Saan kukuha ng pondo?”

De Guzman denied allegations that his administration has been planning to repress student publications.

The 2019 Student Handbook is now up to the approval of the PUP Board of Regents. De Guzman said they plan to implement the new handbook by September 2019.

An earlier version of this article failed to state that a sample size of 1,000 students from the PUP main campus will only undergo the mandatory random drug testing, as clarified by PUP president Emanuel De Guzman.