They Will Fight Until the End

by Valerie Martínez Paris

Last Friday at the Henry Klumb plaza, Antonio Martínez, a University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus employee, explained how he felt towards the possibility of losing his health plan, a situation that arose from the much heard of Law #7. Martínez claimed that “this new law has overturned the employees of the university who feel they have been taken advantage of.”

Law #7, according to the public file posted on the Government health information page, was created “with the purpose of undertaking through an integral and responsible way the financial crisis of Puerto Rico, protecting its credit and providing a plan to stabilize the financial situation…give back to the government its financial health through a plan that consists in investment measures, better financial management and reduction measures.” However the latter part which refers to reduction measures alarmed the employees and questioned if the Government is protecting their benefits for working in the public institution.

© HEEND

The health plan the UPRM provides to the employees has a cover that applies to the extended family of each employee for example the children, wives, husbands or other family member can be covered by the health plan. According to the finance department of the UPRM a total of 1,902 employees receive the university health plan. Law #7 has created fear and confusion within the UPRM employee community. The question is what is the action to take if the employees are left without the health plan? According to the HEEND (Hermandadde Empleados Exentos No Docentes) union March 16, 2010 newsletter, the government plans to eliminate the plan known as “unique” and give the employees the government public plan, which covers less than half than the plan employees currently have. The union claims that they will fight for justice because it is not their fault the government has not administrated the country’s money wisely. If it is the Governments best interest to fairly resolve the money issue the employees hope to not fall under the cutting that is going to be done to urgently help the economic crisis. On the other hand the Board of Trustees has in its hands a certification that can change the future a lot of possible students of the UPRM.

The approval of the certification #98 by the Board of Trustees looks to cut the employees’ children’s benefits of free tuition and the health plan provided by the university. The employees are willing to fight and want to keep the government from instituting the reduction clause because this means that they won’t have the benefits they used to have for being employees of the public institution. What will be the end result of this situation is not really certain. The employees claim for justice and as citizens of Puerto Rico they are opened to learn more about what the Government plans to do to save the economic status from falling. In addition clarify what is to be done regarding their health plan and their future as public institution employees.

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Behind Mural Expressions

To vent. To complaint. To voice. To create. To send a message. These are the reasons why UPR-Mayaguez students have been using university walls as a medium of free expression. Thiese students’ expressions can be found in buildings like Chardon and Monzon, in bathrooms and elevators, and hallways.
“Cristo te ama” (Jesus loves you), is written in the four walls of Monzon’s elevator. One of the persons or maybe the only person who writes this specific phrase said “everybody is at some point oforced to read what is written in the walls of the elevator, specially the ones in Chardon and Monzon because they are too slow. That is a way for me to give a positive message.” Even though it might be a positive message, it’s cataloged as vandalism.
“PR Libre” free PR, is another of the expressions that can be found easily inside Chardon’s building. This one can be assumed that came from a young man with a nationalism feeling and speaks maybe in representation of a group of people who think the same way, have the same ideals and want the better for this island. But the simple reason that “PR Libre” is written in the walls, it is called vandalism.
“Paren el discrimen por orientacion sexual” (stop discrimination because of sexual orientation). Is another of the expressions most seen in the walls. This theme about homosexuals is and has been a conflict for years. “Iglesia y Estado son asuntos separados” (church and State are separate issues) is another issue that has caused conflixts in society.
Most of these phrases represent the voice of more than one student that think the same way and probably are wishing to be heard. “Not everybody reads the news, not everybody listens to the radio, not everybody hears us when we speak, but almost everybody reads whatever is written in walls” said a student from Campus who wanted to keep himself anonymous. He thinks that strikes and manifestations are temporary but a wall expression is something that is there for a long period and is workless because he doesn’t need to be in some place with a group of people sending a message. He just writes and everyday people will read and then other people will read and then the same people will read again in case they forgot. “This is just my free expression” he added.
There are a bunch of terms that from one point of view it’s something wrong, and from others, it’s right, and from others can mean absolutely nothing. And that is what happens when we try to say that walls expressions inside the campus actions of vandalism.
“This type of vandalism is relative” stated 28 out of 33 students of UPRM. “If I woke up in the morning and I found that the exterior walls of my house are written with strange phrases that for me don’t mean anything and have no purpose, I will say that my house has being vandalize,” said a student from campus who prefers to keep anonymous. Meanwhile another anonymous student said “vulgar wall expressions with no sense and purpose is vandalism, but something that have been written for a specific purpose is just a voice expressing and maybe protesting against something, and should not be classified as bad.”
For some people like the ones who clean the walls of campus, wall writing can be something disturbing, but for the students can be their own voice. Students maybe are against some phrases written in these walls but, they should take their time and start reading every expression to see with which of them they can idetify themselves.

March, 25, 2010

Park In or Park Out?

By: Jean L. Ramos

UPRM students face one big problem everyday besides studying and doing assignments; arriving in time to classes. This is due to the time they spend driving around looking for parking.

According to the Department of Traffic and Surveillance, “135 students are given traffic offenses because they park in places that are not designated for students”.

This is one of the problems students have when parking inside the university. They often end up parking outside, where there is another special parking facility for students. In this parking facility a trolley comes and takes them inside the university.

Kelmith Lopez a UPRM students of say “this is good, but one downfall is that is hard to find where to park. Is the same that happens inside the university and the other one is waiting for the trolley and hoping that it is in service because if it’s not, we have to walk to the university, which is 15 minutes that one waste on this trip”.

UPRM Map found in uprm.edu/welcomecenter/media/rummap01.jpg

The Town Center is not a student parking lot, but it is so hard to look for parking in the areas designated for students that they often end up using this private parking facility. One of the security guards, who asked not to be identified, said “I tell around 22 students per day to move their cars out of this parking”.

This is one guard’s estimate and they do shifts around hours, and there are four guards. Then, an estimated 440 students park their vehicles in this parking lot each week.

The entire university parking facilities can withstand an estimated of 2,201 student vehicles. Considering there are 13,196 students enrolled at UPRM, there is a deficit in parking. Even dividing two students per vehicle, it will still be a deficit.

Heriberto Hernández, Director of the Department of Traffic and Surveillance, stated that “we will be trying to give permission to park in the designated areas for students to those who do not live close to university, by doing so there will be parking for everyone.

This is because not everybody has the same classes at the same time. Even so this plan is not perfect because some of these parking lots are also being used by the construction workers of the new facilities near these parking”.

There are groups of students promoting the use of other methods of transportation like bicycles or skateboards. This is an efficient way to arrive at class in time and you do not have to look for parking. According to mayoclinic.com using one of these methods is good for our health as well; it helps to liberate stress and tension, because when you are used to drive a car our body tends to get numb and sore.

UPRM Prefers Stephanie

A mirrored view of UPRM´s building preferences

By: David Ian Rodríguez

The University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) is favoring engineering students by using most of the technology funds into engineering major´s computer centers, laboratories and classrooms, while lowering the technology budget and the quality of the maintenance in other buildings.

A total of 13,196 students are enrolled in the spring semester of 2010 at UPRM and 4,859 of these students are engineering majors, which makes engineering the largest university faculty. However, this does not render other departments less important or less dependent on technology.

Students at the UPRM are charged a $25 fee every semester for technology improvement and maintenance. This semester the university received $329,900 from student fees, plus additional private and federal funds.

The Stephanie building is a computer engineering building in great technological shape as opposed to the multi-departmental building Chardón.

Stephanie´s classrooms have air conditioning. Its 18 computer centers, with two that are open 24 hours a day and are equipped with the necessary computers and materials and its classrooms are fully equipped to fulfill students´ and professors´ need.

On the other hand, Chardón´s computer centers are not as well equipped and only open seven hours a day, making it very hard for students who use these computer centers to fulfill their obligations. Moreover, classrooms are barely equipped with air conditioning and with the technology needed to teach classes.

Angélica García, a social sciences major, has had much trouble when using the facilities of her departments computer center in Chardón. Sometimes the printer is out of ink or inoperable. Other times she cannot even access a computer because there are only 18 working computers in the center.

On the contrary, Elí Samuel Rodríguez, a computer engineering major, is completely satisfied with the technological infrastructure of the Stephanie building where he takes the majority of his classes. He has access to all 18 computer centers in the building

The technological inequities are dramatized by the fact that all UPRM students must take classes in Chardón, since the Spanish and the English departments are located there, and Spanish and English classes are mandatory. Yet this building is barely equipped to serve its massive student population.

Another case is the Military Air Force and Army ROTC building, whose technological infrastructure is funded by the military branches of the Air Force and the Army.

A computer´s lifespan is of two to five years approximately, which forces the university  to purchase new computers and upgrade technology every couple of years.

Technology is a necessity, and students rely on it on a daily basis to complete almost every task.

Professors also need computers and projectors to teach classes and successfully educate students and the quality of the technological infrastructure deeply affects how students learn.

Even though there are more students majoring in engineering, the budget for technology must be better spread, to satisfy the needs of all students.

A Deficiency in Medical Services

“In an emergency, avoid medical services in the UPRM, look for other options” agreed Jean Paul Alonso and Priscilla Velez, two UPRM students, based on their experiences in the medical center of the campus, they think its services have to be fixed as soon as possible.

Jean Paul said that the medical services of the UPRM are a joke and if they continue giving students mediocre service its down fall is near. “I went to the Medical Services with my hand feeling a little bit numb and red, the doctor said it was a wasp sting and sent me back to my house, the next day I woke up with my hand as big as three of my hands together” recalled Jean Paul.

Eventually he went to Bella Vista Hospital and had his hand checked and the doctors asked why he waited so long to go to the hospital since it was an allergic reaction that could have worsened. He said that everyone in the medical services should undergo a continuous education so that they could distinguish between a wasp sting and an allergic reaction.

For Priscilla Medical Services is a place that you enter with a small condition or injury and exit in worse shape. We are in a campus that has thousands of students that comes everyday without thinking what could happen to them.

“Like me many students wake up not feeling well and head to the Medical Services to see what’s wrong” said Priscilla. She complained that when you are in Medical Services feeling really bad they make you wait three hours and then you find yourself back at your apartment after doctors tell you “it’s nothing, take some Panadol and you’ll feel better”. The next day, she claims, you feel like you’re about to die since it was Dengue and not something that could be cured with Panadol. She says that a solution for this problem is that Medical Services should be re-staffed.

Jean Paul Alonso and Priscilla Velez claim that they aren’t the only students who have had problems with the Medical Services. They say that this is a problem that affects all the students of the UPRM since in case of an emergency it isthe closest place to go, or the only place to go for those who don’t have a car. Priscilla and Jean Paul conclude

Medical Services of Mayaguez campus

that the best solution for this is to change the doctors or have the ones that are active do a better job.

Does Anyone Care About the Monzón?

By: José Vélez Anderson

Our own University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez has not been getting the necessary maintenance in the Monzón building for the past two years and this year it has been even more difficult because the University’s budget has decreased.

As many students have said, the building conditions in the Monzón are bad. Groups of students complained about the different facilities that are missing around and inside the building. The more students were asked about their opinion on three different days in the Monzón building, the more eyes were opened to the truth and about what they thought all students agreed that should be done to solve these situations.

one of the many cracks of the building

The smells when you go into the building are horrible. You can hear students in the hallways complain about how bad the smell is. You can see some corners with cracks on the floor and people don’t usually sit because they are disgusted by these building malfunctions. Most of the fire alarms fail to work. “If there was a fire we wouldn’t have enough time to go from classroom to classroom to evacuate everyone,” said a janitor who requested to remain anonymous.

The interviewed group included was the students with disabilities. Their positive opinions about the building were that there was an elevator to take them to different floors. Although convenient, the last elevator incident which occurred last month has freaked out the students and they are now afraid to use the elevator.

What happened was that when some students were taking the elevator, some fumes started to come out of the wiring of the elevator, causing it to stop. They had to evacuate the students. Going from classroom to classroom because the fire alarms failed to work.

The majority of the complaints go to the limited range of the elevator has. It goes only up to the third floor. A student named Kevin Morales, which had a handicap for a short time, said that he hasn´t been able to go to his professor’s office all semester because it is on the fourth floor and the elevator doesn’t go that high.

Other students didn’t care about the elevator because they don’t use them a lot. “These bathrooms all stink and I have to go down from the third floor all the way to the first one” a male student said.
A female student commented on the halls “Our mirrors are all dirty and they don’t even bother to refill the toilet paper.” Some of the janitors are aware of this situation but because of the economic crisis, they don’t have the supplies necessary to keep the bathrooms in the most uptight conditions.

Because of the horrible women’s bathroom conditions, a computer room has had to be closed down temporarily a couple of times. Sewage water leaks from the bathroom to the computer room. Students have been limited to only a couple of computers and because of that some of them have complained.
Jonathan Bellido, a student in the Monzón majoring in computer engineering, stated “I haven’t had enough practice for math because I cannot use the computers and the ones that work are always taken.” As long as the bathrooms have bad maintenance the computers will stay out of order and students won’t be able to go to the student center in Monzón and to use the computers as reference for their math work.

“I’m Sorry Our Priority is Engineering Students”

By: Dane P. Font Beauchamp

Student in the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (UPRM) who does not belong to the institution´s privileged faculty speaks about dealing with a system that heavily favors engineering majors.

According to uprm.edu, the UPRM student body consists of 13,324 students, 33 percent of whom are engineering majors.  That 33 percent benefits from a staff of 171 full time professors and 107 part time faculty.

These numbers might not seem shocking considering that UPRM is locally and internationally known for engineering, technology and agricultural science majors (according to upr.edu).  Nonetheless, engineering students one only of 33 percent of the student population, which leaves another 67 percent of students who deserve equal attention and rights to the services the university provides. Yet, According to second year Political Science student Katerina Kalantar, that is not the case.

Katerina has had her share of problems when it comes to receiving adequate services from the university such as slow and inefficient service in the universities health ward and crowded classrooms in major classes; However her most memorable disappointment came last semester when it was time for her to select courses for the next semester.

Complains about the registration process (also known as “matrícula” amongst the student body) are no strange affair at UPRM.  There are not enough courses or sections to accommodate the massive amounts of students who need to take them.  Often English, Spanish and other general courses are numerous and it´s not that much of a problem to enroll in them according to students.  But when it comes time to select major courses with a maximum capacity of 20-35 students, the problem begins.

To deal with the problem in a fair manner the university divides students into groups according to special needs, and grade point average and gives them access to the course selecting system according to how they rank up.  The first day of registration is only available to people who have special needs, members of the school band, the choir, and members of any athletic team.  The second day is available to honor students with a GPA higher than 3.33, the order in which you can access the system is according to your GPA and if put in a group with people of the same GPA the order is the system alphabetical. Students who need less than 24 credits to graduate are prioritized over the rest of the student body.

Katerina’s dispute with what seemed a fairly straight forward system came when she noticed that she could not access the course selecting software the second day even though her grade point average was above 3.33.  When she spoke to one of the people in charge of distributing the order in which the students can access the software she explained her situation, pleaded her case showed her transcript which she confirmed indicates her 3.56 GPA.

When she asked to be permitted access to the software the second day like the rest of the honor students she was sternly told “I’m sorry but our priority is engineering students”.  So even though the system is construed as a very unbiased and fair system, somehow the fact that Katerina chose to not become and engineering major was reason enough to deny her the right she earned to select courses the same day as honor students.

Headache after a “freetime”

By: Jose Nazario

Fun. Recreation. Stress!!!

Those were some of the emotions students had last semester at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez  (UPRM) after some strikes and an administrative and academic recess changed the University calendar.

Freedom is given to most humans, to express themselves and when society feels oppressed they go on a strike. “The General Student Council ruled in a General Assembly held today, Tuesday October 6, 2009, a 48-hour strike on our campus,” said the Interim Director on an email sent to all the students of the UPRM. It was the first strike decreed by the General Student Council.

After that, the students gathered in front of the gates, collected signatures and had another 24 hour strike resulting on the taking of three days off the calendar.

Then an administrative recess was imposed from 12 to 16 of October. “Before this situation, in keeping with our policy of non-confrontation, and taking primary responsibility for the safety of our students I’ve taken the decision to declare an administrative staff, and academic recess, beginning Monday, October 12, 2009, at 1:00 am. and culminating on Friday, October 16, 2009 11:00 pm Friday,” annouced   Miguel A. Muñoz, interim president of the UPRM. “We hope this academic and administrative recess wil help to calm things down, to think quietly, and power and channel our efforts and energies towards the welfare of the university community.” he added.

After all these events, the calendar and the schedule of the university changed drastically, postponing the end of the semester from the 14 of December to the 21 eliminating even holidays.

How this did affect the students? Some of them had serious complications when it came to the exams they had those days. Extending the calendar and eliminating holidays stressed out  some of the students “I couldn’t take it, I remember that was in chaos as professors gave me three proyects for that week,” expressed a second year biology student.

On the other hand student had problems with their families “I had two exams that last week . I had more time to study but in the end I ended up staying in Mayagüez until the 21 and my cousin,who was on vacation here in Puerto Rico, was leaving on the 24 to the States, I onlyspent two days with him,” said Joseph,a third year  civil engineering student.

Others used that time for entertainment “at the beach I spent all that time and working with my dad,” said Kelvin, a second year chemistry engineering student. At the end the very core of the students hated that they changed the calendar, expressing the problems the university caused them. “I was going on vacation but now, 3 days before Christmas didn’t gave me much time,” said Kelvin.

Everything is not glory and in the phase we are going it’s rumored that there might be another strike, because of the raise in tuition for the summer classes. They might have to extend the calendar again, after those many problems that created last time will student raise their voice against it or keep oppress like much of the time.

Stress in Students

Stress in Students

By: Stephanie Rivera

Students usually have stress because of workload, financial insecurity and pressure to obtain a career; this harms their physical appearance and emotional stability.

In the article http://www.stressreductionbasics.com, comments some studies on student stress that show that its main causes are the overload of work, which makes them feel like they do not have enough time and become sleep deprived. Other problems are jobs and money; students who are not supported by their parents have to financially support themselves. They stress about finding the money, for living expenses, car payments and maintenance and tuition.

Another source of stress is prospects. Most students work hard to achieve their goals to become the best in their field. It is here where they start asking themselves if they are going to be good enough for their career and if they are going to be able to find a job.

In an article http://stress.about.com, Elizabeth Scott comments that the overload of work is one of the causes of stress in students because of the drastic change from high school to college. Students go to college without really knowing the harshness of college. Other causes are the hours without sleeping because of the overload work, not letting them think very well. Is often results in weight gain or dropping out.

A survey made In the UPRM of 10 students from the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, English and math suggests that 80 percent are usually stressed out because of relationships, money, future and school agglomeration work. The pressure to do their work perfectly makes them eat more than usual and do inefficient work because they cannot think clearly.

On the other hand, 20 percent of the students surveyed declared that they sometimes feel stress, but that has not affected them at all in their lives. Stress helps them in a  positive way to obtain their goals.

Pre-med student Diliani Roldán, agriculture student Anthony Irizarry, and electrical engineering student Rodrigo Rojas agree that the main cause of stress is the excess of class work, because it does not let you do efficient work. In addition, for some young women like Roldán, stress is mainly reflected by hair lose, while for some men like Irizarry and Rojas, they just get grumpy, expressing it to everybody.

An article by the University of Alberta Health Centre advises students on how to manage stress to fulfill their college expectations. It said that students should avoid unnecessary stressors, such as: loud music, last minute anxiety and caffeine, cigarettes, beers, etc. They should also change their attitude to a positive one, take care of themselves, learn to manage their time using a schedule or any other technique that could work for them and practice relaxation techniques, like yoga, deep breathing etc.

UPR is Hearing, But Are They Listening?

By: Sofía C. Ayuso Burden

Every year the University of Puerto Rico welcomes thousands of students who eagerly await the opportunity to obtain knowledge in different offered courses in the system but after their first year passes, and they have to fight for those courses, they realize that meeting graduation requirements wont be as easy as they imagined.

In the first year of UPR, students’ course program are prepared for them. But after that breezy first year comes to an end, now they have to face the problem most students in the UPR system face. As freshman evolve into sophomores, their journey in college becomes even more difficult. They have to choose the courses they want or are required to take in order to complete their major.

The University of Puerto Rico enrolls a great amount of students, without having sufficient resources. When the time to select courses arrives, this situation creates a major problem.

Most students view selecting courses as a dreadful process, not looking forward to it at all. “One month before having to choose my courses, I start to panic and stress because I know that the classes I need to take will not be available when my turn comes” says Joylin Aranzamendi, a sophomore majoring in Social Sciences. Her experience enlisting in the UPR Mayaguez campus has not been the best. Aranzamendi views the situation as a clash between demand and offer. “There is a high demand for classes and a low offer when it comes to professors and space” concludes Joylin.

Having limited space and professors to offer the amount of courses students need, becomes a nightmare for many students. This commonly results in students transferring to other institutions where the courses they must take can easily be accessed.

“When I studied at the “Iupi”, it was impossible for me to get the credits I needed to complete my bachelor’s degree. I wasn’t an athlete, nor about to graduate, nor a freshman, and my GPA was average, so I didn’t have any priority,” said Jeannelish Deida when asked about her decision to transfer to the InterAmerican University, Bayamón campus. Deida describes the registration process at the UPR Rio Piedras as the “worst”, usually resulting in obtaining only 14 credits per semester, when her bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 18 credits. ‘It is so much different here, the classes I need, are assigned to me, I don’t have to worry about having to graduate in six years instead of four anymore”.

Francois Giuliani, a member of the UPRM student council, who is in his sixth year at the university, complained that he has taken so long to finish his bachelor’s degree in agriculture because of the limited space in the basic classes. “The problem is not with all the classes, it’s with the basic classes like psychology, accounting, pre-calculus, humanities, and a couple more” said Giuliani.

The administration of the University of Puerto Rico has been made aware of the problem it faces. Many students have protested and voiced their opinions when it comes to this existential problem. Many assemblies have been arranged to face the universities problems, but nothing has been done to correct the situation. Could it be that the UPR system is altering the course of their problems, in order to focus on manageable ones?

Students protest, but is the system really listening?

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