UE Dawn dialogue with school administration


In a dialogue held last July 17, 2012 (Thursday), 5:03 PM, at the Guidance Testing Center in the University of the East-Manila, the following were present to represent their respective institutions/bodies:
College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Pauline Gidget Estella, national president of CEGP
Romina Astudillo, chairperson of CEGP NCR chapter
Jonalyn Paz, head of CEGP National Propaganda Committee
Jian Carlo Gomez, member of the CEGP National Secretariat
Vincent Reyes, staffer of EARIST Technozette, member publication of CEGP

Joshua Labonera, staffer of Dawn
Monique Tiongco, managing editor of Dawn

Screening committee of Dawn qualifying examinations
Mr. Conrado Generoso, head of screening committee

UE administration
Prof. Edilina Baldoza, International Students Organization adviser and coordinator for Dawn
Mr. Edilberto Sulat, University Relations Officer

Student councils
Hanz Ocampo, chairperson, UE Manila student council
Sharmaine Lopez, UE Caloocan student council

It was established that the CEGP and Dawn wanted to achieve the following objectives in the dialogue:

1. The mode of collection of publication fee should be changed back to automatic collection, which means that the fee is included in the list of miscellaneous fees to be paid by the students upon registration. It was clarified that automatic collection stands in contrast with manual collection, which means that the staffers will have to collect the publication fee from each of the more or less 6,000 students.

2. The current staffers should be retained because the validity of the qualifying examination is questioned vis-à-vis UE Policy Guidelines of the Total Student Care Program: On Student Publication, hereafter referred to as “policy guidelines” or “guidelines,” and Campus Journalism Act of 1991. The Student Affairs Office declared that none of the students who took the qualifying examination passed the test (including current staffers who already passed the examination in the previous years).

The CEGP and Dawn have stated the following arguments:

1. The manual collection has no basis. According to Article 7 of the UE “Policy Guidelines of the Total Student Care Program: On Matters Concerning Student Publication,” the “editorial board, in coordination with the school administration, may provide a system for the collection of publication fees from the students.” Therefore, at some distant point in the past, both parties had agreed on automatic collection, meaning the university shall collect the publication fee upon enrolment, meaning the publication fee is included in the list of miscellaneous fees to be settled upon registration. There exists a duty on the part of the administration to collect the fund and a duty on the part of the publication to release issues for the studentry, the sole publisher of the paper.

As stipulated in the guidelines, the mode of collection can be changed only through an agreement reached by the editorial board, not any other student institution, and the school administration. “The absence of an editorial board” is not a valid justification for imposing a collection scheme, for the termination of the term of the editorial board is contentious and no policy changes should be made until such contentions are resolved. It was the decision of the university president alone to impose a manual collection scheme (“…the university will no longer collect [the Dawn fee]”).

Furthermore, it is stated in the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 that “in no instance shall the …the school administration concerned withhold the release of funds sourced from the savings of the appropriations of the respective schools and other sources intended for the student publication.”

2. The qualifying examination is questionable. By practice, it was established that the editorial policy of Dawn is that staffers who already passed the qualifying exam need not take the test again. This time, however, the current staffers were required to take the test and the members of the ad interim editorial board were not allowed to take the examination because of a pending case.

The convening of the screening committee did not abide by policy guidelines, which state that the selection of the media practitioner and the two past editors in chief who will be part of the screening committee should be agreed upon by the outgoing editorial board and the administration. The ad interim editorial board was never consulted.

3. The failure of the students to pass the exam could not be held as a reason to prolong the absence of staffers. At the event that none of the takers passed in the second round of examination, there is a necessity to devise an alternative scheme because the students could not afford the fact that the Dawn will not circulate for months.

4. The pending disciplinary case should not be taken as a reason for not allowing the members of the editorial board to take the examination. It was stated in the guidelines that a student may take the qualifying examinations as long as he or she “does not have a derogatory record.” The guidelines did not qualify what “derogatory” means and the meaning rests solely on the interpretation of the administration. Second, there was no decision yet on the disciplinary case. Therefore, at the time when the examinations took place, the members fo the editorial board are legible to take the test.

To these points, the representatives of the screening committee and the UE administration responded with the following:

1. They are not in the position to speak about the manual collection scheme because it was the university president’s decision.

2. They are not in the position to speak about the validity of the qualifying examination because it was the university president who chose the members of the screening committee.

3. The manual collection scheme is not entirely a bad proposal. Mr. Generoso pointed out that during his time as Dawn staffer, they were willing to manually collect the funds. It is only a matter of being creative and devising efficient methods in collecting the funds.

4. The staffers should pass the qualifying examination. Quality should not be sacrificed for the sake of releasing an issue.

5. They are not in the position to say whether or not the members of the editorial board are legible to take the qualifying examinations because it was the Student Affairs Office that selected the students who could take the test.

6. The screening committee could not guarantee that an alternative scheme will be implemented in case nobody passes the examination again. It is, again, a matter resting on the discretion of the school administration (university president and student affairs office).

7. There is an initiative on the part of the administration to hold a second wave of examinations. Ocampo said the president met with the councils last July 13 and the second round of examinations will be held in August, tentatively.

All parties agreed on the following points:

1. The Dawn should start circulating again, at the soonest possible time, and should continue operating. The Dawn is an indispensable student institution with a long list of alumni luminaries and a rich history.

2. The screening committee and the CEGP will conduct lectures a week or two weeks before the examination so that the students who will take the test will be more equipped. The CEGP will help popularize the examinations by participating in a room-to-room campaign or in any other method of encouraging the students to take the test.

3. There is a huge necessity to set a dialogue at the soonest possible time with the university president and the directress of Student Affairs Office to resolve the crucial issues at hand.

4. The CEGP will prepare an executive summary based on the raw minutes and will copy furnish the offices of the parties involved (Dawn, CEGP, Student Affairs Office, the screening committee, the student councils of UE Manila and Caloocan, and the office of the university president), with the raw minutes attached.

Monique Tiongco
Former managing editor, Dawn
Joshua Labonera
Staffer, Dawn
Pauline Gidget Estella
National President, CEGP
Mr. Conrado Generoso
Head, Dawn qualifying examinations screening committee
Prof. Edilina Baldoza
Adviser, International Students Organization and coordinator for Dawn
Mr. Edilberto Sulat
University Relations Officer
Hanz Ocampo
Chairperson, UE Manila Student Council

Sharmaine Lopez,
Chairperson, UE Caloocan Student Council