‘Unable to pay tuition, UPM freshie commits suicide’
by Victor Gregor Limon
A 16-year old UP Manila (UPM) Behavioral Science freshman was declared dead-on-arrival at around 3:30 AM today at the Metropolitan Medical Center (MMC), after she committed suicide at her family residence in Tondo, Manila, said UPM Professor Andrea Martinez, the student’s program adviser.
The said student committed suicide a few days after she filed for a leave of absence (LOA) on March 13. “[Pagkatapos niyang mag-file], nakapag-usap kami [sa text] at sinabi niyang malungkot siya at napakalaki ng epekto sa buhay niya at ng pamilya niya ng pag-LOA niya,” Martinez said in a phone interview with the Collegian.
Assigned into Bracket D of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), the student was forced to file for a LOA, because she could not afford to pay her tuition and her request for a tuition loan has been denied by the UPM loan board, Martinez said.
Bracket D students of the STFAP pay P300 per unit, or around P7,500 for a semester with 18 units, including miscellaneous fees. The said student had already filed for re-bracketing but the results of her appeal will not take effect until the next academic year, Martinez added.
Martinez said the student has no longer been attending classes since February because she was depressed and embarrassed because she is not officially enrolled. “Nahihiya pa nga siya sa mga kaklase niya na kailangan niyang mag-file ng LOA at magtrabaho para makaipon ng pambayad ng tuition sa June.”
“Since the STFAP has been revised, lalong nag-increase ang tuition ng UP. Every student should be able to study in UP regardless of their financial situation. The UP administration should not deprive them of their right to education,” Martinez added.
In November 2012, the UPM administration barred students who failed to pay tuition on time from being admitted to their classes. The said students were eventually allowed to attend their classes after a dialogue with UPM officials, but some students had already been forced to file for a LOA, according to reports from the Office of the Student Regent (SR).
The student’s father works as a part-time taxi driver, while her mother is unemployed. She is the eldest among five siblings. As of press time, the student’s family has declined to release an official statement.
“This is a sad and outrageous moment for us iskolars ng bayan. In behalf of the UP students, I express sympathy to the family and friends of [the student]. [She] will always be remembered in our continuous fight to realize the youth’s right to education,” said SR Cleve Arguelles.
The said student’s suicide exposes that the cost of education in UP has become expensive for many and discriminates those who cannot afford it, Arguelles said. “As we seek justice for the death of [the said student], let’s be unified in our call to repeal the ‘Forced LOA policy’ in UPM and [the tuition hike in 2006], as we also make the UP administration accountable [for what happened],” he added.
In a statement released to the Collegian, the UPM administration said they deeply mourn the death of the student and that they have offered their condolences through UPM Office of Student Affairs Director Libertine Achanzar-Labor. The UPM administration also said they are extending financial assistance to the family.
“As we continue the pursuit of excellence and relevance in our programs and services, we commemorate [the said student's] life as a student even for just a short time and always remember her desire to be a good student and daughter. Each of us will react to [her] death in our own way. [She] has touched our lives in her unique way and for that, we will always be grateful,” the statement read.
* An earlier version of this article included the identity of the said UPM student. We sincerely apologize for the oversight and have since made necessary revisions to this news report. We strongly encourage everyone to refrain from posting any status, photo, or link, which reveals the identity of the said student.
Short URL: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/?p=7748