Crisis at the UPR

Many students have resorted to damage public property to pressure the administration of the UPR against the special fee o 800 dollars.

By Kenneth Rivera

In a time of economic recession in our country it is clear that many sectors of our society are affected. Such is the case of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). The UPR is passing through one of the worst crises in its history, with a deficit, according to various estimates, ranging from 130 to 200 million of dollars.

The UPR Administration imposed a special fee of 800 dollars to continue their function as University and to reduce the budget deficit. The student community rejects this special fee because they do not consider it appropriate that students pay for the mistakes of the administration.

Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, announced in his last speech to the country that the UPR students have available five options to deal with the costs of studies with the imposition of the special fee. But according to the student press collective “Desde Adentro”, who investigated these options, it does not solve the financial crisis that students face in January 2011.

Both students and professors believe that the imposition of this fee is a step towards the privatization of the university which would imply a radical increase in costs of enrolment thereby preventing entry of low-income students.

Melissa Santiago, a 19- year- old Industrial Microbiology student at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM), said: “Public education is charged as private.”  As many students she had been forced to consider changing to another University. The expenses for her family will be higher since his brother will be starting at college this year.

The situation of students is worse with the passage of time when approaching to the date of payment of the fee for the next six months not yet have achieved agreements to repeal it. Many of them, even of those who receive the Pell Grant full (33 percent of students), must finally pay the costs of accommodation, meal and transportation to continue studying at the university because it only covers them the costs of registration and fee. Even if students are managing money for scholarships, loans, worktops from parents and half-time work more wisely, expenditures remain excessive.

Dan Rivera, 21- year- old Business Administration student at the UPRM, had to find a job once his brother began his studies again to be able to afford food and basic needs. Their home budget doesn’t allow them to stay together but only one of them can pay for hosting. Either his brother or he receives any economic aid; alongside to the imposition of the special fee it strongly affects their parents that have arrears on debts.

More than 750 requests for transfer to private universities have been made at the University Puerto Rico - Mayagüez (UPRM).

In an interview made to Ismael Acosta, financial aid officer at the UPRM, the number of requests of student loans has increased considerably. “Many students, knowing that they do not qualify for student loans, decide to request to have a record if there is an opportunity to qualify in the future”, said Acosta.

Although many students have decided to find a way to pay the special fee, others decided to apply for private universities. According to an anonymous source there have been more than 750 requests for transfer in the UPRM to private universities.

Private universities have made a great effort to provide economics aid programs to students so they can complete their studies. The main reason to quit studying in private universities is the cost of living. The UPR students have come to a similar situation since many of the students who receive financial aid have problems to pay such costs.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, study and living costs are around $14,000 per year.

In accordance with  an interview for the link 80grados.net Argeo Quiñones, professor of Economics at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras, said that if the UPR 62,000 students are posted for the collection of 40 million that seeks to achieve the management of the UPR, the fee should be reduced to 650 dollars. Quiñones argues that the University Administration is forecasting a reduction in the student enrollment with the imposition of this special fee.

The Budget of the General Fund of the UPR was amended on June 30 with a 2.001442 percent which leaves the UPR budget with 17,985,138 dollars less. According to a statement of Puerto Ricans academics and academic in the United States on the current conflict in the UPR cutting the budget of the UPR, from the first educational institution in our country, without exploring other alternatives is way faster to weaken a vital project for our democracy and social existence.

In addition there will be a reduction of $90 million in the ARRA funds allocated to the UPR for the fiscal year 2010-2011.

All this generates great anxiety to the UPR students since this conflict points, according to them, to the privatization of the first educational institution in the country.

 

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The impact of the stabilization fee in the current UPR students

By Lilly A. Robledo Vargas

Over the past eight months the UPR has been one of the most recurrent and covered topics in local news and has even captured the attention of the international media. All began on June 26, 2010 when the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) placed in probation the 10 of the 11 units of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) whose educational offerings were impacted by the student conflict for lack of evidence of compliance with two of its 14 Standards for Accreditation.

This occur after a stoppage, in which an inform of the University costs, in which a fee was include, came to light. Students confirm that the information presented was unclear: there was an amount of money they don’t know where they came from. Asking and pushing they realize that the money will be from a special fee. Which are the consequences from this ‘stabilization fee’?

According to Ansel R. Cancel, an activist student from the Mayaguez campus, this fee would provoke a difficult situation for most of the UPR students. “Ygri Rivera says that we can pay it with the Pell scholarship, but what about the books, apartments, food, gas, cell phones without mention the professor’s caprices?” It is estimated that 10,000 students would not be able to pay this amount and in the Certification 146, Rosa Franqui, secretary of the Board of Trustees, indicates that the second semester of 2010-2011 academic year, students would be paying $800 and $400 for the first semester of the 2011-2012 academic year, “Where I am going to get $1,200 in one year? I don’t only life for study, we all have more costs”, add Cancel.



At the UPRM system, already announce the fee charge.


Otherwise, the UPR Carolina campus is the first who is going to input the stabilization fee, because their classes are quarterly, but no one knows how to apply for the government scholarships. Governor Fortuño announced the allocation of $ 1.7 million in federal funds for the Work Experience Program designed exclusively to help students from UPR to pay $ 800 fee. It was reported that the requirements included having 18 to 24 years, be enrolled in 12 credits or more, belong to a family receiving public assistance payments and nutritional assistance, or a person with some impairment.  If so, would not benefit members of the working middle class workers including students.

Against the stabilization fee, the student Nicole M. Diaz from the Rights Faculty of the UPR, begin a campaign of red balloons Don’t leave 10 thousand in the air. “Our principal demand is that the administration hears our proposals which if implanted, the fee would be unnecessary and the University finances would be restored” ensures Diaz.

Red balloons campaign

In response and in the absence of arguments or willingness to dialogue, the government of Luis Fortuño ordered the occupation of the 11 campus by militarized police forces and the suppression of any protest on or off campus by dint of threats, batons and gas tear.  The attempt to silence all dissent has escalated to a level that has produced dozens of illegal and selective arrests, accompanied by the beating of detainees and fabrication of charges.

Valerie Rodriguez Rodriguez, president of the General Council of Students of UPR-Bayamón said that the fee is absolutely unnecessary. “There are many alternatives to eliminate this fee. For example, to collect the debts they have for the University which are of millions, that the government return the money they take off to college for the famous ‘Act 7’, to have cut management staff, including others.”

The group of UPR Socialist Students has a website in which they indicate a ‘perfect solution’ to the $800 stabilization fee. The Pell scholarship is granted to 25,933 students who received $5,550 per year. It is estimated that $2,600 surplus, then $76,502,350 can be collected from all this students, so the fee is not necessary, ensures the socialists, if the administration keep that surplus.

In answer to this last sentence, Osvaldo González Sepúlveda, president of the General Council of Students of Carolina, said: “Why are they going to do a selective process in which some students will benefit and others not? It would be better if they improve it in the debt and all would benefit from general.”

Many students are making parody publications against the leadership.

Three Generations of UPR Students

“Colegio” Students Shout Out to the UPR Administration, No Strike, NO FEE!!!!

Colegio” Students Shout Out to the UPR Administration, No Strike, NO FEE!!!!

By: Camila S. Ortiz González

This banner was displayed at the entrance to the Student General Assembly at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on December 2, 2010. It strongly and clearly expressed the opinion of the some members of RUM student community regarding a strike.

The reigning spirit in the general student assembly on December 2nd in the Mangual Coliseum at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez was one of uncertainty, fear, anger, but at the same time disappointment with the UPR administration. About 4,041 “Colegio” students attended the assembly convoked by the Students General Council of the UPRM.

Quorum was reached and the assembly started at about 12:30 p.m. even though it was supposed to begin at 10:30 a.m. Nevertheless student assembly began with a crowded very energetic crowd of noisy and impatient university students.

The agenda established by the Student Council was as follows: call to order coming from the Council’s President, quorum verification, the reading of the President’s report and discussed of the $800 stabilization fee, the accreditation of the “Colegio” and finally the student cafeteria.

During the discussion pertaining to the $800 stabilization fee, a member of the Student Council first read out loud the official report of the Student Council, which specifically states that the Certification #146, which imposes the $800 stabilization fee, is an opposition to the Certification #60.

The Certification # 60 states that there will be a formula that will be applied to be used to adjust the costs of the enrollment in the 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico. However, on June 29th 2010, the Board of Regents of the University of Puerto Rico approved Certification #146, which establishes that from January 2011 and each subsequent academic year, every student enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico will pay the stabilization fee which will be determined annually.

This is another banner that was seen in the Student Assembly of an anti-strike group established after the last strike of the UPR system.

The students of the UPRM proposed that the Student Council draw up a document stating that the students oppose the $800 stabilization fee. Immediately, after this proposal, Roberto J. Angueira Calero, president of the Student Body, expressed to his fellow students the Student’s Council official position towards the stabilization fee which is also of total opposition to it. The vast majority of the student present voted in favor of approving the report of the Student Council about the stabilization fee.

Subsequently, the Student Council President proceeded to discuss the accreditation of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. On June 24, the Middle States placed 10 of the 11 campuses on probation because of lack of evidence that the institution is in compliance with Standard 4 (Leadership and Governance) and Standard 11 (Educational Offerings) as stated in their final report (UPR Visiting Team Final Report). Most importantly, in November the MSCHE indicated in a subsequent report that the UPRM also failed to fulfill Standard #2: Planning and the distribution of resources and institutional renovation.

The student assembly proposed that because of the pending accreditation of their institution is that they will not approve of any strike or demonstration that would paralyze the academic and administrative functions at the university, but most of all that would automatically put in danger the accreditation of this prestigious institution.

After the student council representative read the Council’s report on the accreditation of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez there was great commotion in the auditorium because student Alberto Rodriguez, intervened and reclaimed that the report was vague and lacked information related to the discussion in question and also, that if we approved this report it would be a disrespectful act upon ourselves.

Rodríguez stated: “The opposition to the fee is noticeable in the “Colegio” and also the open door to discussion, but there is still a lot of ignorance.”

The intention of the students is to look for other alternatives to a strike, because for UPRM students, paralyzing the university doesn’t look good. In this student assembly we didn’t take real decisions, decisions and actions against the imposition of the $800 stabilization fee”.

Eduardo Náter, active member the organization Student for an Open University replied: “I am very pleased with the positive decision the students of the University of Puerto-Mayaguez of not utilizing a strike as a mechanism to fight the stabilization fee because this would definitely put in danger the accreditation of this superior institution”.

Finally, the students of the UPRM decided that there wouldn’t be any strikes or any administrative or academic cease of any activity in the Mayagüez Campus.  

UPRM Students Show Inaction Towards Fee

UPRM Students Show Inaction Towards Fee

By: Francisco J. Gonzalez

On the the morning of the 14th December students of the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayaguez campus pack once more into the Manuel F. Espada coliseum. The ultimatum they had stated a week and a half ago.

The students demanded that the coming 800$ stabilization fee be canceled and for the resignation of Ygri Rivera, President of the UPR’s Board of Trustees.

No demands were met and this assembly will be used to decide on the response.

If the last assembly was any indication there won’t be any response.

After the usual paper-throwing and jeering we see Roberto Angueira, President of the General Student Council, step up to the microphone and call to order. The crowd settles down quickly.

It seems this time the assembly will be more organized.

The first speaker, Ana Matias, student in the UPRM, asks if this assembly is ordinary and extraordinary. According to the statements and agreements in the previous assembly, this assembly on the 14th will be ordinary.

After the second and third speakers, the infamous Ovidio Lopez, student at the UPRM, stands and rouses the crowd. Lopez points out how the so-called scholarship that will be issues to UPR students should instead be used to help pay the University’s debt.

Lopez then presents a call to action and debate now that the Board of Trustees has not accepted our demands. Finally, Lopez attempts to bring up the subject of Rio Piedras but is cut off by both the student body and the Council, being told that in this assembly we will only discuss matters pertinent to UPRM.

In retrospect, what was said best represents the general student attitude here in UPRM.

Shortly after Ovidio steps down he is replaced by another UPRM student, Joshua Lopez. Joshua’s statement poses the question  as to whether or not it would be possible for the student body to join up and take the fight against the fee straight to the Senate without interfering with Academic or Administrative duties here in the University.

Afterwards, one of the speakers asks why there isn’t a joint General Student Council meeting with members of both Colegiales En Accion and the members of UPR  Abierta. The Council answers with some rehearsed line about how it’s unfeasible or how it has been requested several times yet nobody has ever set it.

Soon after, it all descends into the usual chaos and jeering between students and speakers.

The only agreement to which the students come to is a march towards the Administration building as soon as the assembly ends to raise awareness of the stabilization fee’s consequences to not just the rest of the student body but to the campus’s administration. The resolution is met with raucous applause and seems to be the one thing students can agree on.

Near the end, Ovidio Lopez attempts a motion towards a 24-hour strike to add impact to the march, but the idea is shot down by the Council, who state that the time for offering motions has passed.

More jeering and useless debate later, the motion to close the assembly is passed and students flock to the doors.

It is quite a sight to see over a 1000 students marching together in unison towards the Administration building, placards held high and voices loud. The length of the march is past the Agriculture building reaching back down the road to the coliseum. The students carry banners and signs damning the fee and the stubbornness of the Board of Trustees as other bang drums they carry to the beat of traditional songs, the lyrics changed to reflect the situation.

Unfortunately, as the situation across the island has taught us, the Chairman of UPRM is seen driving away from campus as the students reach the building, leaving them to protest and sing to an empty building.

Two weeks later and it appears in “El Colegio” as the students like to call UPRM, the general student response towards the coming fee is a resounding “Meh”. If this response is any indication, one assumes that the fee will not have much of an impact, even though according to the OIIP’s numbers and the information disseminated by Colegiales En Accion over 10,000 students will be unable to pay for tuition.

Yet, on an individual level, students such as Ovidio Lopez, shows his worries about the fee: “I’m with the many who can’t pay for tuition. Neither me nor my parents can afford it and so far the only way I’ve stayed here [in UPRM] is thanks to the exemptions earned through my grades.”

Lopez also recognizes how in this economic environment there is no way that every student who needs money will, as Ygri Rivera has claimed they can, get a job to help cover the costs of tuition. “It’s completely unrealistic to think we can all just toss out resumes and we’ll instantly have a way to pay the tuition. It just can’t happen in this economy.” Lopez states.

Even the faculty, such as Dr. Linda Rodriguez, English Professor at the UPRM expresses her discontent towards the scholarship and the overall response of the student body: “It’s really disappointing to see how everyone is just sitting on their hands about the fee. This won’t end well.”

A Call to Action

By: Francisco Gonzalez

The semester is almost at an end, and it’s time to start setting up our budget for the next. The cost of living has gone up, and gas isn’t getting any cheaper. What’s worse, due to the amazing irresponsibility of the Puerto Rican Government concerning its use of budget, the educational district is now in debt and the most affected of this branch will be the University of Puerto Rico’s eleven campuses. Unfortunately, the Senate and the University’s Board of Trustees will install an $800 “stabilization fee” to counter this debt.

Although the ubiquitous PELL Grant scholarship is a great help towards most students, and those that attend many of these campuses are local to them, a large amount of undergraduates live in off-campus student housing. And, as is commonly known, the costs of rent, gas, food, phone, internet and all those other things we find so necessary to college life add up and, though many detract by saying the scholarship covers the costs of this fee. To make matters worse, as much as one would like to think so, parents of these students are not exempt of the economic hardships this little colony is facing and most of them are unable to pay for their children’s tuition.

So this coming semester we shall face a new hardship with this fee, and as most students across campuses walk about twiddling their thumbs in apathy while others try to fight I hope that they realize what is truly happening in our University, and band together as one University, unified, to fight against this fee and the government who is forcing us to pay for their own mistakes as they have so many times before, before it’s too late.

Math Courses: A Headache for UPRM Students

  By: Neidy J. Rivera    

      Math courses are part of every curriculum at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). Some students are only required taking the first two courses Math 3171 and Math 3172. These two courses are fundamental in the achievement of their bachelor degrees but not everyone passes them. For most of the freshman students these courses represent a challenge, for otherrs, simply a headache.
       UPRM is a university specialized in science and engineering but has a low performance in some of these courses. Acording to data published by the Institutional Investigation and Planning Office (IIPO) at UPRM. In the 2009-2010 academic year, only 38 percent of the students matriculated in Math 3171 passes the course. The other 62 percent failed or dropped the course.

Data chart for the grades obtained by the UPRM students in the Math3171 course during 2009-2019 academic year. (IIPO)

        Some students have taken this course three to five times. It’s a concern for those students, because this failure affects their academic performances and their graduation date. “I have taken this course seven times,” said Sherryl Calvo an Animal Science major. “I have fifteen credits left to take in my curriculum and I can’t graduate because of the math courses”.

        Emanuel Rivera, a junior student from the Animal Science program took the course one time and dropped the class. “It caused me frustration because I’m approving my other courses with good grades,” said Emanuel. These cases are not the only ones around the UPRM.
       According to the UPRM Mathematical Science Department web page their mission is to: “develop competent professionals in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and related fields such as Statistic, Computer Science and Mathematical Education. Also this Deparment wants to provide services of excellence in courses of mathematics and fields related to diverse academic programs in the campus, particularly those of Engineering and Sciences.”
       The Department also provides a student support center that provides free tutoring for students registered in math courses. This center is located in the Monzón Building, Room 220. Students can use this center to clarify doubts and borrow textbooks. Yet at the beginning of this semester, the student support center was closed.
       Another resource offered by the Math Department is included in its web page. A section called “Course Help” offers old exams, extra problems and their solutions. With this section students can practice more than the exercises in the syllabus.

Data chart for the grades obtained by the UPRM students in the Math3172 course during 2009-2019 academic year. (IIPO)

        If the Math Department offers all these resources, why don’t students approve the courses? Is not only the Math 3171 that is prone to student failure and drop outs; it’s also visible in the 3172 course. In the 2009-10 academic year only 531 students approved the course and 942 didn’t.
       After interviewing these students they agree that the problems that affect their performance in the classare: bad study habits, difficulty in the material, lack of interest, too many students per section and instructors that don’t know how to explain the material.
       For the Math 3171 and 3172 classes students are required to take three partial exams and a final. Some professors also assign two more grades for homework and electronic quizzes. “Sometimes the material is abstract and instructors know mathematics, but don’t know how to explain the material to the students,” added Sherryl. “The assessment techniques used in the class aren’t effective.”
       Electronic quizzes are included in these methods. “In occasions the electronic quizzes don’t improve the grade of the students” said Emanuel. These quizzes are designed to prove the knowledge of material per section. “If the electronic command isn’t entered in the right way you get the wrong answer, no matter if you have the right procedure,” Emanuel added. In some courses these quizzes are up to twelve percent of the final grade.
      On the other hand , there are students who approved the courses at once. Some of these students offer tutoring. Valerie Cervoni, a senior student of Marketing believes that students need to study more. “They tend to fail in the basics of Algebra and some students don’t practice the recommended exercises.”
       Luis López, sophomore student in Electrical Engineering, believes that the problem is the time students dedicate to the class. “You can’t pass the course if you don’t study with anticipation and try to do the problems the day before the exam.” He is tutoring his girlfriend this semester.
       Both Valerie and Luis agreed that the number of students in the sections affects the quality of learning. “Students in large sections prefer to use a tutor because in their classroom they don’t receive specific attention or they are afraid to asking questions in front of the class,” said Cervoni. She also aded that: “The organization of these courses needs to change and both professors and students needs to finds new way for grading and approving the courses.”

Struggle to Gain Agreement for Employees of the UPR

By Judith Valentín Ramos

Since 2009 the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is facing a critical economic situation, which negatively affects the entire university sector. Employees of the University of Puerto Rico belong to the Brotherhood of Teachers Not Exempt Employees (HEEND) and to the Labour Federation of University Employees Mayaguez Campus (FLEURUM).

These unions are supposed to fight for the employees’ rights and to negotiate their benefits with the university administration. Both had an agreement for 2007-2010, which is stipulated in the rules, conditions and employee rights.

Currently the leaders of these two unions are negotiation reached an agreement with the administration, which doesn’t want to honor many of the rights or benefits that were in the last agreement.

Union members discussed the issues of the Convention.

One of the stuff that gets left by the lack of agreement is wage increases since fiscal year 2009-2010. Sent a notice on June 17, 2009 in which Victor F. Rivera Rodríguez, director of Human Resources confirms the status of wage increases.

“Not authorized to grant salary increases to July 1, 2009, or after that date, to any university employee including special assignment personnel, although the federal proposal from which their salaries so provides” Rivera said.

According to the Convention Article 96 – Salaries effective July 1, 2007 “the University Administration granted to any member, permanent appointment, probational, special, contract and temporary substitute serving full time, an increase in salary, effective at July 1, 2008. Effective July 1, 2009, the staff mentioned above will receive an increase in their salaries up to one hundred forty ($ 140.00) per month. ”

They also face difficulty with the University Health Plan. The agreement of the HEEND and FLEURUM 2007-2010, states that “The University will cover the cost of Medical Plan Coverage as described in the Auction No. 07-05 fiscal year 2007. The University will recognize a single employer contribution per household”.

The Administration also agreed that by 2007-2010 the parties will meet to negotiate the design, terms and conditions and implementation of the new Health Plan One and the way they will cover the cost of this benefit, without excluding any option.

But now for the UPR Health Plan costs can not exceed $ 500.00 in January 2011, eliminating what is now the Single Plan. Creating difficulty to many employees who have health conditions covered by the plan. Prices have increased deductibles and copayments in the different insurers, is likely to adversely affect many employees that can’t cover the cost of your health plan.

The Mayagüez Campus is one of the eleven precincts facing economic problems.

All employees who belong to the FLEURUM or HEEND entitled to receive payment under the sick leave accumulated and not used in excess (90) ninety days. The last payment received was in February of this year, because they always paid on the final payroll of February.

This situation results in employee absenteeism. Daily in the various departments are absent from 1 to 3 employees seeking to exhaust these days for which they will not receive monetary compensation. The Federation and the Brotherhood exhort their partners not to lose their sick.

“Not all employees can deplete these days before December 31, 2010, because they are indispensable in your work area”, said Monserrate Cruz, an employee at the Technical Civil Engineering Laboratory at UPRM.

Assemblies; Protagonist of University Historical Events

Assemblies; Protagonist of University Historical Events

By: Juritza M. Ramos

Among banners, shirts with protest messages and comic choruses, held the most recent assembly in the UPR- Mayagüez held on December 2, 2010. The Mangual Coliseum hosted approximately 4,000 students who were interested in the future of their university and were present in this assembly.

The $800 fee imposed by the university administration was the main theme of the assembly. The vast majority of the students disagreed with this fee. The assembly was based in the search of options to force the administration to eliminate the fee.  Among the options were a possible strike. In the Mayagüez Campus this was discarded; meanwhile they gave an ultimatum to the administration until December 14, which is supposed to be date of the next assembly.

Jorge Alvarado, a four year mechanical engineering student, always participates in university assemblies and also express his opinions and ideas during meetings. This time he invited all the students to attend  the meetings because these issues are of interest to all “Do not let someone decide for you, the university is in the hands of us all”, he said.

The University is an open world, the same as the minds of the students, who in “open mics”, “shifts in favor and against”, and motions, expressed themselves and present ideas to solve issues that affect all.

The same is happening at all the public universities campuses of the country. This issue of the $800 fee has forced students to convene meetings to take a decision on their strategy against the administration. Recently the campus of Aguadilla, Utuado, Río Piedras, Humacao and Arecibo had their assemblies and manifestations.

Assemblies in the history of the UPR have been many. These have allowed students to join and make movements to defend their rights. These are acceptable because we live in a democratic country with the right of free expression.

For general definition, an assembly is convened to facilitate the democratic decisions that may affect members of an organization. With the same purpose they have been celebrated in the history of the UPR. The University Act of 1923 established the Board of Trustees as the governing board, and created the post of Chancellor as the principal officer. After that the General Student Council was created. Which is a committee of students, with a president and other members, that students can choose by a vote. This committee was created with the purpose of maintaining a direct contact between administration and students.

Anyone can request an assembly, but the General Student Council have the authority to make and official assembly supported by the university administration.

The first assemblies in the UPR system took place as early as 1919 when  the first protest and claims were expressed by students. Assemblies have big impact in the university. Lizzette Pérez, secretary in the Dean of Administrations office, expressed that and assembly is of interest of all the members of university, including employees. “Every time there is a meeting in the office we’re all alert, as it is an important event for the entire university community”.  In her opinion, by assemblies students have a “powerful  influence” in the decision of the campus .

UPR-Río Piedras assembly held on April 6, 2010.

Throughout history there have been assemblies that have marked the UPR. We can remember the assembly held in UPR- Río Piedras in September 1981 which approved a strike that last three months. The reason was the a increment in the tuition payment that the administration wanted to impose. Something similar at what we are living right now.This strike was often mentioned by the high rate of violence unleashed. Fortunately the tuition increment does not impose at this moment.

During that same year in November, they held another assembly very well known because it ended in a revolt. Approximately 8,000 students were when it was abruptly interrupted by the police causing injuries of many.

Another more recently example is the first general assembly (all UPR campuses) held in the Ponce on May 13, in which students ratified a controversial strike that last 60 days.

The future of the UPR is uncertain, and today assemblies are still the main instrument used by students to listen to each other and take important decisions for wellness of their university.

Distance view of the bleachers of the Mangual Coliseum in the UPR-Mayagüez assembly held on December 2, 2010.

A Life in Colegio

By:  Iván Trinidad

December 23, 2010

A Life in Colegio

The University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez(UPRM) better known as Colegio, has a diversity of students that are from every city in Puerto Rico. Also the UPRM has international students and professors.  Most of the students that come from far away of Mayagüez live in campus housing.

Christian Satini, a math student from Colegio works in an investigation in one of the few study halls of the UPRM.

Terrace is one of the most popular areas in Mayagüez where students live. Another popular location is Post Street, where most of the bars and pubs of Mayagüez are established.  On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Post Street is crowded with people at night.  The music could be heard until 2 a.m. in the street thanks to the Public Order Code.  After hanging out Colegio students, go back to their homes searching for a good and soft bed.

To be a lodged resident in Mayagüez is not be easy for any student.  Their life turns completely different and mostly harder. The student shall be an independent person, not economically, but psychologically.  Why?  Because lodged students won’t have their families in Mayagüez and they won’t be able to share with them more than three days a week.  Sometimes being away from the people who raised you for a long times, makes you forget your moral values.  In order to be responsible and have a balanced life in Mayagüez it is important to remember your goals and the purpose why you are in Colegio.  Your friends can help you to not feel alone and make progress in Mayagüez.

When you listen to the horns in the afternoons and your car doesn’t move because there a hundred more cars waiting for the traffic light to change, probably you will feel at home when you remember that Puerto Rico has the same traffic issues everywhere.  So let’s be grateful if the air conditioner is working because temperatures of an average of 85° F will make Colegio’s students sweat daily, and maybe if you are waiting for those cars to move you will hate to live in Mayagüez.

What about the stress temperature in Colegio?  Every time a new semester starts in UPRM high waves of stress burn students.  Their lives are charged with problems. Investigations, reports, essays, homework, quizzes, exams, and all that academic stuff that I probably forget to mention surrounds constantly their minds.  Adding to their issues the weight of their personal troubles may turn them crazy, but a Colegio student won’t give up and will be strong enough to keep going.

Mostly, life is not easy in UPRM; even finding parking could be a serious job.  The “white” parking area, where most of students leave their cars is full most of time.  Wake up at 7:00 A.M. on a Monday and you will be late to find parking.

Also if you are hungry the best alternatives to eat in UPRM won’t be available to you.  Colegio has a contract since 2008 with a company named Sodexo that manages the campus cafeteria.  The prices for food and other products served should be “reasonable and competitive” with other establishments around the Colegio, according to Article IV, section 4.3, on the contract.  But some students are not satisfied with the service provided by the cafeteria.  “The food tastes bad, and is too salty”, said Hector Torres a 5th year computer engineering major. “There are prices that are okay, but others are expensive”.

Selling homemade food for three days at economical price was the way some organizations from UPRM protested against Sodexo’s food service and prices on October 18, 21, and Nov 2nd, 2010.

Organizations of the UPRM represent students’ feelings and interests.  Pre-professionals organizations “help them to attain a better understanding of how to pursue their careers”, said Jenny Hong, an editor of Daily Bruin.  Students who are members of some organizations find jobs and internships easier than others because they learn through activities to search for them.  Also organizations prevent students from having sex without protection.  According to the Health Department of Puerto Rico around 24.7% of confirmed AIDS cases were caused for heterosexual contact and men who had homosexual relations, based on the data submitted until 2006, caused a 16.1%. The Department of Health Services of Colegio offers confidential tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

UPRM students benefits from organizations and acquire skills for their career majors through leadership activities

It is important to be healthy and care about you, to ensure your academic development.  Grexarie Torres, a mechanical engineering student said, “I think not getting to much rest last year made me crazy”.  Studying is the key of success in Colegio as in any other academic institution.  Therefore, it is important to be responsible, do homework on time, try to further any study time, review daily class material, create a study routine, and ask questions whenever you don’t understand something.

Another UPR strike for the History

By: Alfred D. Rivera

Jose Rivera Santana, President of FUPI from 1980 to 1982 is retelling the accounts of the UPR strike of 1981 in the UPR-RP.

The strike that started in April 23, 2010 against certification 98 was one of many that have occurred in the history of the University of Puerto Rico since its establishment in 1903.

It can be estimated that 3 out of every ten years are spent on strike at the UPR and in most of them, students resulted, expulsed, suspended, arrested, injured or dead. When ask about her opinion of the strike when she was a student, a retired professor of the UPR at Rio Piedras Wanda Santiago said “I didn’t approve the strike because they were violent…”

Although not every strike were as violent as the 1981 strike in the UPR-RP, in most of the strikes, students and civilian resulted injured due to the action of the police when a riot started due to the provocation of other groups that were against the strike or sometimes due to the provocation of the police itself.

In 1967 all the way to 1971 students of the University members of FUPI (Federacion Universitaria Pro-Independencia) and PIP (Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño) were against the Reserve Officer Training Corps for its military and US representation in Puerto Rico. In those four years all the manifestations, strikes and other events were against the ROTC, reaching climax in march 11, 1971 when the police strike force entered to break the confrontation between independents, ROTC cadets and university guards; resulting in students, cadets and  police shot; a police officer, cadet and a civilian dead and over 70 students arrested.

In 1981 the story repeated its self this time due to a rise in tuition costs. Leaders of different student groups and association of the UPR-RP and other students that couldn’t pay the raise in the tuition costs protested after the student assembly was over. “Although in the assembly the strike was not proposed, it resulted from it because the students were tired of the indignation and lack of trust of the administration.” Said the ex president of FUPI in 1980’s Jose Rivera Santana in a conference he gave at the UPR. This caused violence almost daily, “every time there was a strike, the police came and attacked us” causing the administration to declare academic recess.

A police officer is shooting his firearm, when at the same time a woman was asking for the officer to stop and even so her voice went unheard.

With events like this in the past one has to ask, why does the story repeat itself? “…I was conscious of the continuous abuse of an administration insensible to the students needs.” Said Professor Ruben Lasanta of UMET and retired professor of the UPRRP.

This is what led students to another strike in 2010 having the second longest strike period in the history of the UPR due certification 98 and the implementation of the stabilization fee of 800 dollars. Compared to others strike in the long history of the UPR this one will be remembered and praised for not violent events compared to those of 1971 and 1981.

From 1919 to 1921 most of the protests were against the United States involvement in the university or other Puerto Rican affairs and the fight for free speech. Most of the student that participated were suspended, expel or repressed.

From 1924 to 1948 the strikes and protest were focused on the administration style and the decision they took in respect to different situation that arose in those times.

In 1960 and 1961 started the protest against the ROTC because it was mandatory to every student and from 1963 to 1966 were mostly confrontations between groups of different ideologies. There were confrontation between police officers and students resulting in students injured and a police car burned.

From 1967 to 1971 all the protests were against the ROTC, but this time the students protesting wanted the ROTC to leave from every UPR campus. Many students were suspended, some were injured, some died in confrontations with the police and civilian that weren’t involved also resulted injured or dead. Due to the protest many attempts with bombs and arson were orchestrated against the ROTC buildings.

In 1981 one of the most violent events in the history of the UPR, due to strikes that started because the administration was going to raise tuition costs to high for the standard of living of students in that time. This resulted in one of the longest strikes of the university and many students arrested, injured, dead including students and civilians that weren’t involve.

From 1998 to 2004 students and PIP reinitiated protest against the ROTC in its different campuses. Some students were accused for different violent acts surrounding the protest and marches against the ROTC.

From 2005 to 2010 students protested against raise in tuition costs in the UPR system. Mostly all of the strike has just gotten a little of what the student protesting wanted.

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