The UPR, An Obstacle for Students

The UPR, An Obstacle for Students

By: Nelvin Acevedo-Valle

Sometimes to achive our goals with success we have to overcome some obstacles that get in our path. It’s hard sometimes to get by them, but not impossible; well that’s what we all want to believe. For the last eight months obstacles are what the education system of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) has been living. The conflict began with the budget cuts and threats to raise cost of education, this conflict gave pass to an indefinite strike realized by ten of the eleven Campus of the UPR stating in April.  A strike caused by the dispute between the students and the administration approach to raise the price of the summer credits.

This incident brought with it severe consequences to all the students of the different campus, like the extension of the semester and the riskiness of losing the educational grants. Clearly these issues that have been part of the life of the students until today could be reflected in their worried faces and daily struggle to discover and know what the future has prepared for their educational life.

Then when for an instance a thought of calm and a good ending was coming up, history repeats itself. The education process is again put in jeopardy because of the special $800 fee that will be charged to students at the beginning of the semester. Already the Campus of Utuado, Arecibo, Cayey and Río Piedras have started strikes or stoppages to let the administration know about their disagreement with this fee.

For the administration this fee that has been established is to reduce or end the budget deficit that the UPR has. A decision made without taking into consideration how the students will pay this amount of money. For the administration a possible solution is to give to students that qualify a special grant to pay for this fee. Melissa Vega student of the UPR exposed some questions; why then isn’t the money directly given to the university? Why are you giving us some money so we could return it back by paying a special fee?

For students like Melissa Vega-Cartegena: “This fee is one that we don’t find that is justified in any way. All that it has brought to the students is worries and stress by not knowing how we will deal with it at the beginning of the 2011 semester.”

Melissa, third year student from Chemistry at UPRM

Melissa, a third year student at the Mayagüez Campus tells how the implementation of this fee will affect her and her two brothers who are also students of the Chemistry Department at the UPR-Mayaguez. “How could my parents pay the special fee of $800 for each of us? It’s a total of $2,400. All of this with out including the cost of courses that we will take, since we don’t receive any grant at all.”

Like the Vega-Cartagena siblings there are lot students hat don’t receive a grant and whose parents could not pay this special fee. This issue is affecting students whose worries are getting bigger as the starting of the next semester is approaching and the question of what will happen next is just a step away.

For some students, the administration is not taking into consideration that students have a lot of expenses and although the UPR is one of the economic education systems of Puerto Rico, many students have to pay rent, food, books, car gas, light, water and other basic needs.

Melissa Vega and his brother, studying for their organic chemistry exam.

“For my family it will be difficult, almost all of our classes have laboratories and the cost of studying is increasing each year,” adds Melissa. Her parents gave Melissa and her brothers the option to continue their studies in another institution, but for them all the dedication and effort put to get so far should not be ended by an unfair fee.

Unfortunately a lot of students have transferred to other universities in an action of preventing their education and future from being interrupted. This is the case of Luis Rosa-Beniques, a second year student and ex-student of the Biology Department at the Mayaguez Campus.

“My dreams of graduating from the UPR-Mayagüez collapsed. I had to transfer to the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.” Rosa-Beniques had to leave the UPR. Since his parents could not pay the $800 fee and were not willing to put in jeopardy their son education because of the irresponsibility of the administration to solve the problems affecting the UPR.

Luis Rosa during his biology laboratory class last semester before leaving the UPRM.

For Luis the special fee will affect a lot of students that will opt for leaving their alma mater. “My goals are clear, I want to be a Pediatric Urologist and I will not allow the ones that think that have all the power (the UPR Administration) to get in the way of my dreams. That is why with sadness I left to another university.”

As the beginning of next year approaches, the students get more worried about their education. Not knowing what is going to happen creates a feeling of stress and agony that’s what most students express in the classrooms. What is true for them is that something should be done. The problem should be solved and our education should not be put in jeopardy added Melissa. The UPR should return to be stable place to study, where goals are achieve and students become professionals.

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