THE CONDITION OF THE UP FACULTY TODAY
Roland G. Simbulan
Professor and Faculty Regent
University of the Philippines System
Presented before the FIRST UP SYSTEM-WIDE ACADEMIC PERSONNEL CONFERENCE, UFS Employees’ Lounge, Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman
November 17-18, 2006
This report is an attempt to describe the condition of the UP faculty today and to situate their plight in the context of the national and international situation of university education. I have written this report by way of tribute to the great minds of our academic personnel—teachers and research scientists—who have taught in the classrooms of this University.
Why the Faculty is Critical to the Nation’s Premier University
The University of the Philippines is considered the country’s leading university. As a center of intellectual life renowned for the academic achievement of both its faculty and students, UP represents the largest concentration of brainpower in the country with roughly 30% of its total faculty ranks holding doctoral degrees and 43% master’s degrees. The University has 17 University Professors (0.5%), 2,137 Full Professors (58.6%), 1,210 Associate Professors (33.2%) and 272 Assistant Professors (7.5%). (UP System Statistics, 2005) This is why it has always been the top university in the country in terms of its comprehensive academic strength in teaching, research and graduate programs. In its 98 years of colorful history, UP has trained numerous students and post-graduates, the bulk of who are now leaders in all aspects of Philippine society from government to private corporations, as well as revolutionaries and progressive nationalists. It has produced the major pillars of the political establishment—presidents, Supreme Court justices, senators, Cabinet members, and legislators. Studying in UP is the dream of all Filipino students.
As UP President Emerlinda R. Roman highlighted in her paper, “Making a Case for the UP Faculty” (UP Gazette, Jan.-Mar.2006):
“It is said that the University’s heart and soul is its faculty, that the University can only be as good as its faculty. We agree. The faculty is our most important asset. It is they who are principally involved not only in the transmission but also in the creation of knowledge. It is the faculty who gives the University its institutional character. Because the faculty is central in the life of the University, we have to ensure that they are properly taken care of so that they will find it worthwhile to stay and serve the university.”
Profile of the UP Faculty
There are 3,644 full-time faculty members in the UP System which is made up of seven constituent universities with 52,000 students. In addition, we have 1,096 part-time professorial lecturers. Among those both on full-time and part-time status system-wide, we have 2,555 female and 2,185 male faculty members, according to the data of the UP System Budget Office. As for the faculty’s Research Extension and Personnel Service (REPS) counterparts among the academic personnel, there are 1,199 in the entire UP system including the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), distributed as follows: Los Baños – 524; Diliman – 481; Manila – 83; Visayas – 61; System Administration – 18; Open University – 13; Baguio – 9; Mindanao – 8; and PGH – 2.
The REPS as academic personnel represent one of the most neglected sectors in the university. They are lumped with the faculty for purposes of unionization and organization, but are made to share only the measly crumbs of merit promotions and staff development funds with the administrative staff. And even if they become Ph.D holders, their highest salary grade is SG-24.
Despite the eminent status of faculty members and their educational qualifications, the economic profile of the UP faculty has not, in real terms, drastically improved from the time former UP President Vicente G. Sinco described their plight in 1958:
“The professor of this University, the leading institution of higher learning in this so-called show window of democracy in Asia, is given remuneration so inadequate that it has almost degraded the profession of teaching and the work of the researcher. Under such circumstances, it is not easy to attract and keep many of the best minds in these occupations.” (Fonacier, compiler, 1971)
Indeed, this description made almost 50 years ago by a former UP president would still accurately describe the economic situation and plight of the university’s faculty today.
The state’s neglect of its scholars is reflected in the P12,000 – P15,000+ gross pay of Instructors and Assistant Professors in UP. It is an amount that falls short of today’s “decent monthly salary” of P20, 298.90 for the National Capital Region (NCR) and P16,692 for those living in the rest of the country, based on government estimates. In fact, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) conservatively established the 2004 Poverty Threshold at P17,737 for the NCR and P15,001 for the rest of the country. This only betrays the rising gap between the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) rates and the so-called “living wage” to enable a faculty member’s family to live and maintain a decent standard of human existence beyond mere subsistence level. And the sorry state of what should be deemed as one of the most important professions in the country’s premier university is a telling statement about the nature of our educational system and our society.
A comparison of faculty salaries made recently by a UP system Ad Hoc Committee computed per teaching load unit between UP and some leading private universities shows UP salaries lagging behind despite the much higher caliber and academic profile of its ranks:
Faculty Salaries Per Teaching Load Unit
(In pesos; figures in parentheses are percentage differentials relative to UP)
UP Ateneo De la Salle UST
Instructor 7,098 7,600 9,454 7,057
(7.0) (33.1) (-0.5)
Assistant Professor 9,033 11,000 13,645 8,933
(21.8) (51.0) (-1.1)
Associate Professor 11,019 15,400 18,312 11,248
(40.0) (66.2) (2.1)
Full Professor 13,686 18,600 27,971 15,343
(35.9) (104.4) (12.1)
Source: The Final Report of the UP Ad Hoc Committee to Review Tuition and Other Fees, 2006, chaired by UP School of Economics Professor Emmanuel de Dios.
The salary of an Assistant Professor I at UP with Salary Grade (SG-18, Tertiary Level) which is P15,841/month is equivalent to the gross salary of a Chief Master Sergeant/SG 18 which is also pegged at P15,841/month. This is lower than what Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets receive as their monthly basic pay and subsistence allowance combined of P16,338.
Indeed, in a recent report to the UP Board of Regents, President Roman noted that more than 400 faculty members have left UP in the past five or so years. They have joined the private sector, transferred to private universities or gone abroad. (Roman, 2006: 11). More alarmingly, a previous study in the early 1990s conducted by the late Dr. Maria Luisa Canieso-Doronila and associates revealed that many UP faculty members leave the University before the age of 25. On the other hand, 20% of the senior professors are already 50 years old or over. More and more, retirees are being replaced by neophytes who do not stay long enough to master the art of teaching. (Nemenzo, 2003)
As for those faculty members who have untenured status, these are made up of all Instructors and 40% of the Assistant Professors, according to former UP Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Maris Diokno.
The number of faculty members of the University of the Philippines as distributed in the following campuses (based on plantilla items) is as follows:
UP Baguio 107
UP Diliman 1,491
UP Los Banos 929
UP Manila 640
UP Mindanao 54
UP Open University 32
UP Visayas 374
Source: UP System Statistics, 2005
The student-teacher ratio in the various UP constituent universities is as follows:
UP Diliman 29 students per full-time teacher
UP Los Baños 20 students per full-time teacher
UP Manila 16 students per full-time teacher
UP Visayas 25 students per full-time teacher
UP Mindanao 28 students per full-time teacher
UP Open University 87 students per full time teacher
UP Baguio 36 students per full time teacher
Source: UP System data, 2004-2005
Three Categories of UP Faculty
There are three categories of UP faculty based on their present conditions, their stature before their academic peers and their role in society at large. Although UP’s structure is not based on a private corporate structure with the goal of profit and capital accumulation, the economic, social and professional conditions of its faculty nevertheless reflect these definitive nomenclatures.
The first category is the ACADEMIC PROLETARIAT, largely reflecting the pauperized section of the rank and file. This category is not only true for the untenured junior faculty members but also the senior ones who depend solely on their intellectual skills, expertise and dedication to teaching for their income. The academic proletariat, whose earnings are on subsistence level, is the personification of the state’s neglect of what is supposed to be the premier university providing state-subsidized education.
At Salary Standardization Law (SSL) rates, the UP faculty is resigned to a life of genteel poverty (UP Academic Union, 2006). Because of their meager salaries, most of them can only afford to live in rented apartments inside or outside their respective UP campuses. Those renting in the campus dread the day of their retirement when they would have to be evicted from subsidized campus housing. For the professors with senior ranks who are too old to shift careers, they are forced to peddle insurance plans and real estate, chorizos and even cemetery plots to augment their income that is continually devalued by inflation gone haywire.
In his book Theories of Surplus Value, the philosopher Karl Marx foresaw the day when basic industry would be highly mechanized (“automatic system of machinery”), with only a third of all workers directly engaged in production. What would be the condition and situation of the remaining two-thirds of workers? The ill-paid non-tenured instructor and assistant professor would find himself or herself in the same situation as a non-productive worker (one who is not directly engaged in basic industrial production):
“The two-thirds of the (unproductive) population consist(s) partly of the owners of profit and rent, partly of unproductive laborers (who, also, owing to competition, are badly paid). The latter help the former to consume the revenue and give them in return an equivalent of services—or impose their services on them, like the political unproductive laborers. It can be supposed that—with the exception of the horde of flunkeys, the soldiers, sailors, police, lower officials and so on, mistresses, grooms, clowns and jugglers—these unproductive laborers will on the whole have a higher level of culture than the unproductive workers had previously, and in particular that ill-paid artists, musicians, lawyers, physicians, scholars, schoolmasters, inventors, etc., will also have increased in number.” (Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1963.)
Teachers’ salaries which are based on the so-called Salary Standardization Law (SSL) are a pittance of what is given to professors of the same rank in leading private universities in the country. If the faculty member is still an instructor or assistant professor, it means that he or she gets less than what a student earns in a call center. Their devalued pensions will have to wait—if they survive up to their mandatory retirement age of 65. Living below the poverty threshold, they virtually have no safety net in case of calamity, sickness, or accident of a member of the family. In times of emergency, they may have to sell their treasured classic books or appliances in a garage sale. If they are untenured, they had better be ready for unemployment if they do not publish in a scientific or academic paper after five years of overloaded subjects and committee work.
On the side, sexual harassment of the untenured often goes unreported or unpunished in the almost endless process of appeal by the respondent administrator, who can in the meantime use everything in his or her power, authority and influence to effectively retaliate against and even terminate the hapless complainant. The untenured faculty member is treated more like a disposable commodity which can be displaced and replaced anytime, pushing their ranks into abysmal insecurity and increasing poverty. It is indeed a brave new world for the academic proletariat, especially if they are still untenured!
Economically deprived and totally disempowered unless organized, the academic proletariat often plays a key role in the economic struggles within the University, as well as in the struggle for democratic governance.
The second category is the LUMPEN ACADEMIC who, sorry to say, are the result of the conditions in the first category. As a way out of their miserable situation, these colleagues in the academe are forced to become paid hacks, anti-labor technocrats or simply for-hire intellectuals. As intellectual mercenaries, they sell their intellectual skills, reputation and expertise to the highest government or corporate bidder, never mind if the entity to which he/she is a consultant is the most despotic person on earth who has brought misery to the lives of the poorest and most powerless in the country.
Academic expertise here is not simply demeaned as a money-making enterprise or “gimmick” because it is often rendered for clients whose orientations are anti-poor and anti-people. But in today’s borderless world, their “extension service” clients have expanded to international financial institutions and economic vultures who are taking over entire national economies on behalf of globalization. (Bello, 2005) They advise their clients with their technical and disciplinary expertise on what kind of excuses to make for cutting wages, firing thousands of workers or employees, hacking social budgets, increasing taxes, grabbing land from indigenous peoples, poisoning rivers and shortening life expectancies. Add to this list also: how to justify and rationalize the ban on political mobilizations and direct physical terror. The ideological hegemony of the ruling elites that Gramsci conceptualized is created, nurtured and reproduced by the distortions, myths and lies that their kind manufacture like a commodity sold in the “free market.” “The oppressor,” says Brazilian Paolo Freire, “needs a theory of oppressive action.”
Their task for the establishment is to provide it with the authoritativeness or “respectable” ideology that would camouflage or attempt to legitimize despicable acts such as union-busting, corruption, oppression and exploitation by the powers that be. This category has sub-categories of “high class” and “low class” just as there are big-time and small-time mercenaries, goons, hired killers and hit men. Thus, their financial stability is assured by their government or international corporate clients who have completely co-opted their kind with a little taste of power and privilege. Having turned their intellectual skills into a commodity for sale to despots devoid of principle, their common justification for this aberration is that prostituted motto, “Trabaho lang ito.” (It’s just a job).
The “lumpenization” of our academics is made much easier in the “free market” of a “deregulated” economy where the demand for hired intellectual prostitutes creates its own supply. The poorly compensated intelligentsia can “sell” themselves to the highest bidder, and the bidders are “free” to buy them. As sociologist C. Wright Mills observed in an essay, On Knowledge and Power: “When men of knowledge do come to a point of contact with the circles of powerful men, they come not as peers but as hired men. The elite of power, wealth and celebrity are not of the elite of culture, knowledge and sensibility.” The worst and most serious types of lumpen academics are those who hide their “research” in the academe which is actually for the state’s military intelligence collection and analysis.
The third category, the PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL, would be a cross-breed with the first category, but what distinguishes them from the academic proletariat from which they have risen is that they are faculty who are fortunate to have established a name for themselves in their fields of expertise, but refuse to be co-opted by the corporate or government establishment. They chose to remain true to their role as social critics. There remains intact that shining integrity in their analytical, political and professional academic work. As highly respected intellectuals in the UP faculty, they maintain their independence from state or corporate vested interests, engage in substantive debates and polemics, and as public intellectuals develop and clearly enunciate principled positions on politically charged issues of the day.
We see them actively participating in debates, public discourses, even political movements that have shaped or continue to shape this nation. They have made class discussions political acts where teachers create questioning minds and encourage critical thinking. But for them, it is not enough to create doubt and intellectual curiosity. For them, critical perceptions and the creative imagination must also articulate and offer alternative options and directions that develop social consciousness among their colleagues, students and among our people. In them lies the liberative aspects of UP education, for together with the progressive students they have nurtured and produced, they have made the university an important base for a “cultural revolution” of some sort, like in the ’60s and First Quarter Storm. Many in this category of the UP faculty have made positive contributions to the realization of the Filipino people’s aspirations. Many university faculty members were nationalists and progressives who assumed leading roles in the people’s struggle for social and national liberation.
Often, they have reaffirmed a social and political solidarity with the marginalized sectors of society or with NGOs and people’s organizations. They represent the historical memory of the academe’s honest but proud tradition as a laboratory of dissent that liberates it from total shamelessness. For they have never been afraid to take on a powerful state, global superpower or multinational corporation in the articulation of their academic findings and critical positions. Gramsci would have categorized UP’s public intellectuals as the “organic intellectuals” in his Prison Notebooks. The existence of critical scholarship and pedagogy in UP which is constantly under attack by pro-government and pro-business corporatism will rely on the public intellectuals to sustain it. Public intellectuals of UP are the effective antidote for the apologists of the establishment and the present dispensation.
UP Faculty as Consultants for Whom?
UP faculty members are highly prized as consultants. In fact, it is through the faculty that UP has become the biggest consulting firm for the national government and private business. UP instructors and professors have become the think-tank of government, providing it with management and feasibility studies. As former UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr. observed,
“In theory, consultancy work is commendable, but it becomes dysfunctional when it leads to the neglect of teaching. Since their external clients pay much more than the university, they often forget their academic values. They lend their credibility as UP professors to endorse environmentally damaging projects and anti-people policies. In so doing, they betray the university’s role as social critic and public conscience.” ( Nemenzo, 2003)
For their extension service, UP faculty members have served as a pool of trainers, speakers and resource persons/experts in various fields for private corporations and government agencies. But NGOs and people’s organizations have also benefited from the scholarship and commitment of UP faculty members who belong to the category of public intellectuals and academic proletariat. Several faculty members are either ghostwriters for politicians or are directly involved in “development” agencies of the government. Some have even been appointed to directorships of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) or Philippine financial institutions as the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), often in return for being apologists for the present dispensation.
Many UP faculty members for example, have provided technical assistance in planning and programming the “development” of regions which has displaced a number of indigenous peoples or farmers and fishermen in favor of foreign-owned companies in the mining industry. UP faculty members have been tapped to become the main research body for the government’s anti-labor laws, family planning campaign strategies, etc. It is not surprising that key positions at the National Economic Development Authority, the Central Bank, the Department of Budget and Management, and other Cabinet posts have been occupied by former deans and professors of UP. (Bello, 2005) Many of them have become the ideological handmaidens of the establishment. The elite group of the lumpen academics have often served or are serving the so-called “national development goals” and they comprise the so-called technocracy of past and present administrations, especially in the areas of economic planning and policy formulation.
For the sake of academic transparency and honesty, the conflict of interest of those faculty and researchers who are consultants or have ties with business interests must be revealed. Professors should be required to disclose their corporate or government sponsors, i.e., consultancy contracts, stock ownership and other conflicts of interest, in their published research articles. And not only they should be disclosed; readers should be warned that the findings are to be viewed as tentative until independently replicated. It would be unethical for a professor or researcher to publish research in which they have a financial stake.
Each of these three categories is stratified into a “high and low” classification based on rank or stature. These categories are not only based solely on an economistic approach but on social conditions and relations with the social forces in Philippine society. Being conscious and aware of these categories is useful for organizing the faculty and academic personnel. This is why also, faculty unionism, organization and activism must not be just economistic in its approach, but must balance this with the goals of professional and intellectual growth, as well as social responsibility.
Role as Faculty Regent
During the year, I have tried my best to contribute to the advancement of faculty and REPS rights and welfare in terms of my perception of the vital and strategic role of a faculty regent in the highest policy-making body of the University. These duties include:
1. Vigorous representation of faculty and REPS interests, rights and welfare in the highest policy-making body of the university.
2. Promotion of the democratization of the University in both academic and administrative matters.
3. Working for more support for research activities of the faculty and REPS in the University.
4. Working for higher compensation and benefits for the faculty and REPS.
5. Making the UP academe more responsive to national issues and in promoting the cultural identity of Filipinos; and
6. Assisting in strengthening the university’s system-wide academic union and working for its formal recognition with collective negotiating powers to advance rank-and-file faculty/REPS’ rights, benefits and welfare.
Using this strategic perspective as my guide, I have brought to the attention of the UP Board of Regents issues like the review of the tenureship requirement of refereed publications; inconsistent university criteria for merit promotions; institutional protection of non-tenured victims of sexual harassment; and the review of certain administrative cases that did not follow the decorum of due process, among other things. I have also taken a strong stand and position on the plight of the janitors, the proposed abolition of the University Food Service, the proposed tuition increase, the proposed UP Charter pending in Congress, the political killings, Proclamation 1017, the Subic rape case, and the filing of rebellion charges against former faculty regent and UP President Francisco Nemenzo.
Other duties I have performed as faculty regent include the following:
1. I have consulted with faculty, REPS and administrative personnel in all seven constituent universities and 13 campuses, including the extension programs at UP Clark and UP Subic. I have been holding monthly meetings with the national officers of the UP Academic Union and the All UP Workers Union before every monthly meeting of the Board of Regents.
2. The Board of Regents designated me to chair three Regents’ Committees which have submitted their findings and recommendations to the BOR. I was also designated member in another Regents’ Committee to review an administrative case, and in two fact-finding teams that reported to the Board.
3. I have presented to the Board during its October 2006 meeting a position paper on the controversial “Up or Out” tenure issue that requires publication in a refereed journal, which prompted the BOR to ask the UP system to review the policy. (Simbulan, 2006) This position paper was posted in the official UP system website as well as the UP Los Baños website. The UP president has issued a memorandum to the chancellors to get feedback on the publication requirement of the tenure policy, prompting many University Councils to include the issue for discussion in their agenda in coming meetings.
Lessons and Insights
There are some special concerns, lessons and insights that I have been reflecting on, especially on the direction of our University and in our role as faculty members that I would like to share.
1. New Technologies and Creeping Commoditization of the University
The technological revolution will soon have profound effects on the university, and the academe will be devolved into an academic factory. The most extreme assault of the IT revolution is on our traditional patterns of education. Now, lectures can be cloned, captured on video and sent out over the web. In a classic novel, Piano Player, by Kurt Vonnegut, the brilliant machinist Rudy Hertz is flattered by the automation engineers who tell him his genius will be immortalized. They buy him a beer. They capture his skills on tape. Then they fire him.
In today’s information age and new technologies, faculty members are beginning to fall for the same tired line, that their brilliance will be broadcast online to millions for private profit. Thus, “intellectual capital” will be absorbed by “knowledge-based industries.” And since universities are the chief source of this intellectual capital, private corporations are inventing ways to socialize the risks and costs of creating this knowledge while privatizing the benefits for private profits/accumulation. These are some of the risks in the partnerships of a financially starved university with big business corporations in so-called “Science and Technology Parks.”
The commodification of academic research is being followed by the commodification of academic instruction itself. With the commoditization of instruction, faculty and courses go online. Teachers as labor will soon be drawn into a “production process” designed for the efficient creation of instructional commodities, and hence become subject to all the pressures that have befallen production workers in other industries undergoing rapid technological transformation from above. In this context, faculty have much more in common with the historic plight of other skilled workers than they care to acknowledge, because often, teachers think of themselves as professionals, insulated from the crassness of the marketplace, just because our administrators are our colleagues. Like other forms of work, their activity is being restructured, via the new technology, in order to reduce their autonomy, independence and control over their work and to place workplace knowledge and control as much as possible in the hands of the administration. As in other industries, the technology is being deployed by management primarily to discipline, de-skill, and displace labor.
The other form of partnership with the private sector that we better watch out against is that of labor contractualized services. These are prevalent in security, janitorial and food services which we have privatized in the university. Labor contracting agencies which bid with the lowest price often engage in anti-labor practices such as illegal and unconstitutional waivers prohibiting the unionization of employees and banning any form of protest actions. This problem has been highlighted by the recent protests by the Janitorial Services Association in UP Diliman (South Sector). In privatizing or outsourcing some of its units, the University – as client – should assume the responsibility to make sure that labor contractualized agencies do not use the University as a venue to engage in anti-labor practices.
2. The Faculty’s Role in Social Transformation
The UP faculty should make a powerful contribution to the development of a unified people’s movement. Rather than contribute to the further division of the movement, the tempering of diverse ideological and political ideas with the University as its laboratory should lead to solidarity, a unity that respects diversity, and the respect of autonomy within solidarity. It is our faculty members who can provoke discussions, open debates, motivate further theoretical work, and help, not obfuscate or complicate, efforts to combine agendas of different persuasions even while preserving the dignity and integrity of each.
A plurality of ideas should be debated not towards a single “correct” policy or line for any particular circumstances, but to landmark theoretical breakthroughs that can concretely contribute to an alternative national development program with not only strategic goals, but also with tactical and medium-term objectives. Nothing prevents me from believing in the very real possibility of a diverse, creative and liberating movement and in the necessity for those involved in political activism to bring their unique perspectives, personalities, and even humor to the process of creating and working for a just Philippine society.
3. Raising Resources for the University
While I have raised some caution about the University’s partnership with the private sector firms towards commercial development of its 24,500 hectares of land assets, I am not totally against it. The University must be allowed to tap its vast land assets, if not by itself because of lack of capital outlay, then in partnership with the private sector. The University spends roughly 84% of its total annual internal operating budget for Personnel Services, 14% for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), and only 2% for Capital Outlay (CO). Realistically, our country is not that economically stable to fully subsidize state education. If we really believe that the neo-colonial state has other priorities like debt servicing and the military establishment, in the meantime, what do we do with the measly budget that we are given? Do we just sulk and allow UP education to deteriorate while we are made to spend for the security and maintenance of the almost 25,000 hectares of UP land which are magnets for land grabbers and illegal settlers? But fully subsidized state education as in the former socialist economies has always been at the expense of a university’s autonomy and academic freedom. Even when China and the former Soviet Union were truly socialist, their fully subsidized state education was at the expense of their universities’ role as social critics. Needless to say, academic freedom was non-existent. Universities in those countries were appendages of the state or a single political party.
I beg to differ with the view that a state university has no right to increase its tuition and other fees. I find it very anomalous to subsidize with mostly poor taxpayers’ money the education of students who go to school in the latest car models of Vios, Altis, Hondas, and even Mercedes Benzes. But I am for a strict admissions policy under our iniquitous present dispensation that would give 80% of our slots to public and private school valedictorians and salutatorians who would be exempted from the UP College Admissions Test or UPCAT and where those from poor families will be given full scholarships with stipends. The remaining 20% of the slots will be open for competition thru the UPCAT to all non-valedictorians and non-salutatorians from public and private high schools.
And for those students who get any form of state subsidy from our mostly poor taxpayers, it may not be too much to require these students to sign a contract to serve the country for at least five years before working or migrating abroad. I have to mention this, because I am very disappointed with some of our student leaders who were so vehemently opposed to any form of tuition increases during their student days, but a year or so after graduating they migrated to a foreign country.
4. Austerity by Administration
University administrators are faculty members too. University management often ask the rank-and-file faculty REPS and admin staff to tighten their belts but rarely mention that executive compensation and benefits continues to rise while the incomes of the rank and file stagnate and decline. Those who ask for sacrifices because of our limited subsidy enough often never impose the same on themselves. Bertolt Brecht hammered the point well:
“Those who take the meat from the table teach contentment. Those for whom taxes are destined demand sacrifice. Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry of wonderful times to come. Those who lead the country into the abyss, call ruling too difficult for ordinary men.”
The National Relevance of Our University
One of the greatest satisfactions and consolations in teaching in UP is that we not only have an intellectual elite in the faculty ranks but also the brightest young minds among our students. We have in the teaching staff the best professors teaching the best selected students in the country. Many of our excellent and renowned senior faculty members are teaching subjects in which they are the authors of Philippine textbooks and are probably the foremost local experts in their respective fields of disciplines.
Now, this to me is an outline of the profile and conditions of the UP Faculty today, although it is subject to much development and modification. There are many more gaps to be filled, I am sure. But it is only a preliminary outline in a history enriched by faculty struggles for academic excellence, academic freedom and democratic governance. It is a continuing struggle to uplift faculty morale and the dignity of the academic profession. These conditions only point to the urgent need to defend, protect and advance the capacity of the faculty—tenured or untenured—to shape their own institution in the service of the Filipino people. And it is the responsibility of independent-minded intellectuals among the faculty to explore alternatives to the existing national dispensation which exclude ever-increasing numbers of people from access to economic livelihood, dignity and meaningful participation in society.
Our University has had a colorful history of faculty activism and their organizations. UP’s history cannot be written without such faculty organizations such as the Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pamantasan (SAGUPA), the Samahan ng Makabayang Siyentipiko (SMS) in the ’70s; the UP Faculty Organization, the Samahan ng mga Guro sa Ikauunlad ng Pamantasan (SAGIP-UP), the Association of Faculty, Research and Extension Employees of UP (A FREE UP), and the United Teachers and Employees of the UP System (UNITE-UP) which led faculty and personnel struggles in the early 1980s. UNITE-UP, which was formed system-wide during the Angara administration, is the predecessor of the All Workers Union which was originally organized as an association of faculty, REPS and non-academic personnel.
These faculty organizations were involved in struggles not only on faculty and personnel issues but also on larger University and national issues. Indeed, the faculty and academic personnel need an organization that shall uphold the dignity of our profession or calling, advance our economic welfare, enhance professional growth, defend our democratic rights, and to promote an education that is responsive to the aspiration of the Filipino people for a just, humane, free and democratic society. Not a few of our distinguished professors and colleagues have lent support to the rising power and militancy of people’s organizations.
UP academicians and academic personnel—especially its public intellectuals and academic proletariat—if united with other sectors of the university, namely the students, research and administrative personnel, can form an effective and formidable political force that can upset the cultural and ideological hegemony of those in power.
Being a faculty member or academic personnel makes us reflect that a better university is possible. Institutions and universities themselves produce the power for their own improvement by their academic constituents, if well-informed and organized.
Let me conclude by rephrasing Marx and Engel’s famous exhortation: “Teachers of the world, you are workers, too. Organize. Unite.”
Bello, Walden, “Academics, Power and the Crisis of the University.” Based on the Dr. Bello’s speech at the College of Social Science and Philosophy, UP Diliman (downloaded from website, www.yonip.com/main/articles/power-crisis.html.) 2005.
Fonacier, Consuelo, compiler. The Role and Mission of the University. Inaugural addresses of the Presidents, University of the Philippines. Quezon City:UP, 1971, p. 155.
Nemenzo, Francisco. “What’s Wrong with UP,” UP into the 21st Century and Other Essays. UP Press, 2003.
Roman, Emerlinda, “Making a Case for the UP Faculty”, UP Gazette, Jan.-Mar.2006.
Simbulan, Roland. “Towards a Rethinking of the Tenureship Policy of the University of the Philippines,” www.up.edu.ph, 2006.
UP Diliman Faculty Manual
University of the Philippines Code, 2006 (Electronic Edition)
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UP Manila Administrative Manual (Vol. 1&2)
UP Manila Community at a Glance (Facts & Figures, 2003)
UP System Statistics 2005
UP Academic Employees Union, “UP for Sale: Ang Patuloy na Pagtalikod ng Pamahalaan sa Edukasyon at ang Epekto Sa UP,” PANDAYAN No. 2, 2006.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Nov 19th 2006