Punishment or Rights?

Punishment or Rights?

By: Stephanie Figueroa

Outside the Mangual Coliseum located on Campus at the University Of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, on December 2nd students stand on line as they await their turn to register and be able to walk into the building. Conversations are over heard on multiple topics, including what is to be discussed in that morning’s student assembly.

As one by one, students of all majors begin to walk into the building, anticipation and wariness is seen throughout the crowd. Questions are beginning to arise into each individual’s mind as they take a seat. Will my university join the other universities which have already declared a 24 hour strike?

The main reason for this assembly was to define what actions the UPRM students wanted to take towards the $800 stabilization fee being imposed by the Board of Regents of the University.

At the end of the assembly it was declared that no students wanted to pay the $800 fee. Yet these students also voted against a strike. The main reasons were because they don’t have enough money to pay it, and if this fee was imposed many students would have no other choice but to withdraw from the UPRM campus.

Yet right after walking out of the assembly many students walked or drove to the Town Center

Which is only five minutes away, to eat.

The Mayaguez Town Center, which as various food industries, and is just a few minutes away from the UPRM campus.

Francheska Reyes, a third year Electrical Engineering student, claimed that this did not look right in the eyes of the administration.

“Students claim they don’t have money to pay this fee, yet there they go wasting money on food, that they can cook at their own home. They should put that money to better use, like save it for the fee, instead of fighting,” said Reyes

To frightened to be called names, Reyes, chose not to speak at the assembly.

The lines at the Town Center for each franchise were extremely long, yet people didn’t mind. The conversations over-heard, had nothing to do with the past assembly; most of the students were talking about situations in their personal life.

When a group of four students were told about Francheska’s comment, most of them began bad mouthing her. They did not agree with her.

Alexis Cruz a mechanical engineering student, stated that if Francheska had her own opinion she should’ve said it in the assembly, since she failed to do so; she has no right to say anything now.

After most of the students had left the town center, a worker from the Franchise Taco Maker gave her own opinion. “I work here so I’m obliged to say I’m neutral In this situation according to my boss. Yet, I think what these students need to do is stop fighting to prevent the imposition and just find a way to pay. They’re going to have to pay it no matter what,” she said under condition of anonymity.

Back at the university, the main subject everywhere was the agreement reached at the assembly. A professor, from the English Department while awaiting to begin his class, was overheard of saying that all UPR students are “boo-hooing” over a little extra money they must pay each semester. He would have to pay $13,000 by the end of May, and he wasn’t upset; after all he couldn’t take any of it when he died.

When I approached and asked if he would collaborate more on his opinion, the professor, said he was thinking out loud and chose to walk away leaving the person who he was originally talking to in an awkward position.

At the end of the day, a sad second year students was walking silently back to her apartment. I approached her to ask what the problem was.

“I get two full scholarships. My parents don’t have enough money to pay for my housing, so with the money that’s left over I pay my apartment. But if the stabilization fee is imposed, I won’t have enough money to pay my apartment, and I’ll be forced to leave. This is the University I’ve always wanted to graduate from. And I’m scared that I’ll have to drop out,” said Kateleen Vargas, Physics major.

Whether the fee is imposed or not, many have their own opinions on it. Many are too scared to even say their onion as was the case with Francheska Reyes; some are already condemning themselves to a sad future, while others have no intention of paying anything.

Students gathered at the UPRM coliseum, to discuss what the students want to do in regard to the stabilization fee.



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