Despite hard testing, lots of assignments and research papers students still plan to enroll in graduate school.

Despite hard testing, lots of assignments and research papers students still plan to enroll in graduate school.
Opinion Survey Colegiales 2011(OSC) paints a groundbreaking portrait of today’s UPRM students.

By- Sean K. Neal Perez

Color and personality Feature Story

With all of the problems in our Puerto Rico and the constant reminders of unemployment, the expression: “no jobs” and the low salaries that professionals are paid after graduating, you would expect studying satisfaction to be low. Somehow, despite all the negative factors that make headlines, the reality is that most students keep studying!

A UPRM survey, conducted by the English course, “Writing for the communications media” prepared by Dr. Jocelyn A. Geliga Vargas and her students on spring 2011, showed that many of UPRM  students plan to enroll in graduate school. Classes and professional training are a way of life for many students. Some even go to summer school to headway towards graduating quicker and get a lead upon other competitive students.

These findings are among 385 undergraduate students from the UPRM. About the survey takers: 59.2% were females, 90.4% were born in Puerto Rico (PR), 91.4% were raised in PR, 36.1% are second year students and 40.3% come from public school experience. This survey takes you inside some typical UPRM actual scenarios and introduces you to the dedicated aspiring professionals who are studying here.

The American flag and the Puerto Rican flag, since 1950 the migration started and there more Boricuas in USA than In Puerto Rico. Today we still fly away in the quest for the American dream, like are grandparent did back

Some key findings include:

  • That after finishing collage, 74.2% of the surveyed students have plans to enroll in graduate school while 37.9% plan on entering the workforce.
  • And when they were asked if after finishing college they planned to move out of Puerto Rico 41.8% did not know while 37.1% said yes and 21.1% said no. The students that answered yes (142) were asked to indicate why they plan to move out of Puerto Rico after finishing college and 89 choose to enroll in graduate school and 76 to look for a job. This same students answered were they plan to move  and 80.7% said United States(U.S.A)
  • 73.2% have family members or friends who have migrated to the United States in the last five years. Which 90.7% of them went on the quest to look for jobs opportunities.
  • In their opinion, comparing the quality of life in Puerto Rico with the quality of life in the United States 49.5% said is worse and 32.4% said the same.
  • 66.3% speak fluent English and 88.2% said Spanish is their first language. 79.2% answered Puerto Rican identity vs. 14.2% Both Puerto Rican and American


The next two paragraphs explain why the survey had these results. And what are the consequences of these decisions.

The bureau of labor statistics in P.R. determines that employment in the year 2010 reflected a drop of 38,000 employees or 3.4% in relation to the year 2009.  The average employment of 2010 was 1,089,000 people, it represent the fourth consecutive year with reduction.

According to the statistics Institute of Puerto Rico the characteristics of those who migrated during 2006 and 2007 were people which have an educational level relatively higher than those who reside in Puerto Rico. The probability of those who migrated that has done graduate studies is almost double as a resident of Puerto Rico.   This suggests that migrants are often carrying a relatively more developed knowledge. If this phenomenon continues there is the potential that in Puerto Rico there will be an emptiness of people with skills and specialized knowledge. Another characteristic is that this migration tends to be relatively younger, and this could accelerate the ageing of the population of Puerto Rico.

Students from Puerto Rico working for NASA. It shows the educated, that leaves Puerto Rico for jobs.

In a balcony at an antique house in Mayagüez were a couple of floating hamacas made perfect scenario for a good moment of honesty and fun chatting/ interviewing Angelia Rivera about craziness at the UPR. She is a third year student who’s raised in Coamo P.R., at 16 years old she became a UPRM student after being rejected by UPRRP in the humanities department because her IGS score did not qualified. And she decided to come to el Colegio were they accepted her in mention department.

Angelia loves investigation, and finds that the degree that she plans to achieve matches with the life style she feels is the best for her, because the study of humanities has a lot of categories which she can do research on to mention some: culture, arts, language, writings and others.

Tough, challenging, dedicated and self taught is how she best describes her academic experience. The career or “job” that Angelia understands best fits for here is one working for an institution, because the art scene in PR is not getting enough support. And will be at lesser risk being employed than rater being self employed, “if I go out of PR I could reconsider this decision” said Angelia convincingly. And also recommends that students get prepared as much as they can, so they could achieve jobs, create their own business and most important make better decisions.

When asked about if she would recommend others studying in the Colegio she says: “well, yes I do recommend people to study in the UPRM” there was a moment of silence and boom, laughter hahahaha. But then she gives a more honest answer which meant to say: “that if students want to chill do not come and study here they will be destroyed with bags under eyes and a lot of time studying and working”. But right now it’s the cheapest alternative and it is consider a prestigious university. But strongly recommended to other students to evaluate other options and investigate, so they can make a good plan. Angelia like some other students participates on extracurricular activities like bomba dancing, makes natural soap, reads poetry and yoga. She explained the importance of these activities which develops memory, health, discipline, passion and physical. Also commented that it’s not easy to balance it with the fact that she is a full time student at el colegio and the insight that she expressed was easy and to the point “you got to set priorities so you can be successful”. Other important tip is the use of the agenda to balance things out and have a better view of what is up.


Effects of the stabilization fee

By: Isamar Mejias

The students from this generation are fighting for their rights. Students protested against the stabilization fee in a march.

Some laws are imposed to students that are not always good for them. Students painted walls as a way of not accepting the stabilization.

Some students of the University of Puerto Rico have been affected by the Stabilization Fee. Some students even had to leave the University because of this fee.

The Universities of Puerto Rico has been known for their students, the education, and the low cost of tuition. But all of this changed when the government imposed the Stabilization fee. The Stabilization Fee of the University of Puerto Rico is one of the many measures adopted by the Board of Trustees to address the critical fiscal situation confronting the whole system of the University of Puerto Rico.

In 2010 the students of the University of Puerto Rico where informed that they had to pay an $800 fee. They immediately protested and went on a stoppage. The Board of Trustees decided to divide the $800 fee in half; students have to pay $400 every semester.

Students who had financial help, some financial help, and not any help at all were affected by this fee. Zomarys Dumeng who is in her second year studying chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, has no financial help and depends completely on her parents help, she said that “ The imposition of the Stabilization Fee has a great effect on her and her family because they have to be careful how they use their money”. Zomarys is not the only one that has this problem; many other students have to be careful on how they are using their money.

Some students even had to stop studying because they did not have a way of paying their tuition. The National Center for Education Statistics said in 2010, before the imposition of the Stabilization Fee, that the annual cost of studying in the UPR was of $13,800. Other students had to pay their tuition by taking loans and extending.

According to a survey recently conducted by students in a Media Writing Course at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, more than half of the 385 students receive financial help (Pell Grant). Yara Rosado a third year agronomy student at the UPRM is one of them. Even thought she receives financial help the $800 affects her. “Now it is harder to pay my apartment, my cell phone, buy food, and pay for gasoline because of this fee. I am sure that almost every student in the UPR are having financial problem because of this fee” she said.

Additional survey data reveals that the students have different reasons on why the Stabilization Fee was imposed. Some say that is to pay a debt, other to better the qualities of the universities, to buy books, etc. This is why the students have protested a lot with this fee, because it is not certain where the money is going. People do not know much about this so called Stabilization Fee, they only know that they have to pay it or they cannot continue studying.

Keishla Corchado a third year animal science student at UPRM said that: “The Stabilization Fee was made to pay the huge debt that the Universities of Puerto Rico are in”.  Even though she receives a little of financial help it is still not enough. She had to reduce social activities, now is always worried about money, especially when she is paying an apartment in Mayagüez, she has to take a loan to pay her tuition, and she is feeling stressful because she is always thinking about money. This fee can affect emotionally the students like is affecting Keishla, they can get stressful even get depressed and in some cases their grades are affected.

According to the trustee Agustín Cabrer, president of the Evaluation Board Special Scholarship Fund created in the Senate said that 25,000 students receiving Pell full will receive the $800 to pay the fee while the other students who do not receive Pell complete, that are about 12,000, receive a share of the $800. This help was not given until the beginning of May, 2011.

This Stabilization Fee will continue for some years and it is not certain that it will not be permanent. That may cause problem to the system of the UPR because some students may not be able to pay their tuition and decide to leave (maybe to other universities or to not study at all and try to get jobs). These make cause future stoppages in the universities and problems in the society. The Stabilization Fee has not yet been accepted by the students and has not brought anything good for the Universities of Puerto Rico.

How have the students been more affected?

By: Liza Cristina Ramos

Art made by students criticizing the stabilization fee. Arts like these were seen in the student strike as a use of protest.

On the second semester of the academic year 2009-2010 a stabilization fee was established in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). This stabilization fee was effective for all UPR campuses, for a total of $400 per student each semester. Causing this to be one of the reasons of why the students of the UPR went on strike; also one of the reasons why the school year of 2010-2011 was started a month later than usual. When students selected their classes for the second semester of that academic year the stabilization fee was added to the total of their tuition fee. This caused many changes in the lives of the students, some had to leave the university because they couldn’t afford it, others decided to transfer to a private university, and many had to get jobs in order to pay for their education or make adjustments in their life because of the change this stabilization fee caused to their economical situation.

A survey questionnaire was made in the class of Writing for the communications media teached by Jocelyn A. Geligas in the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus (UPRM). This questionnaire was made to get the opinions of the UPR students on certain recent topics some of these being the stabilization fee. There was one question in the survey that asked how where the students more affected by the stabilization fee educationally or on entertainment.

The survey was answered by 385 students. In the question mentioned before about the stabilization fee 83 of the students  answered that the stabilization fee affected them more on entertainment, this being only 23% of the students. The students could give two other areas where the fee affected them, resulting that 96 students answered that the second area most affected was clothing, and this being 26% of the students. The last area most affected answered by 66 students ending in a result of 18% was food. These three areas only give a total of 67% of the students’ answers. The remaining 43% of the students were affected in other areas.

Examples like these or different can be found on many students around the UPRM. Felix Cruz, a third year Physical Education student said “I had to decide what my real priorities were because of the stabilization fee. I have no problems in the studies areas since I receive full financial aid, but before the fee I was given back a larger amount of money; which I use to get by on food, gasoline, going out and other necessities. I don’t have a job other than washing a few cars here and there, so I don’t have a fixed income and have to balance what the financial aid gives me back to get by. This semester my car broke down, in order to fix it I had to spend around $600. If I got my car fixed I couldn’t buy food here in the university so, I had to decide whether to fix my car or eat. Now I can’t go out as much, very few times because each time I want to go out I have to think how much it will cost me to go to the movies, the beach or even go out and eat. Thankfully now I’m starting a personal training job on the side that will help me a little.”

This is an example of how students have had to go some drastic decisions because of the stabilization fee. An Anonymous second year Social Studies student had to start selling Marihuana in order to maintain her social life the same. The student said: “My financial aid was reduced so I don’t receive the same amount of money I used to and my part-time job of modeling was conflicting too much with my studies so my financial aid was at risk. I had to start selling weed in order to keep the social life I had and not make any adjustments. I know is a risk to have for a job but it’s what’s helping me stay the same as before the stabilization fee.”  Some students prefer to stay the same and being able to afford what they normally could before the fee at whatever risk it takes than make any adjustments in their life.

Many believe the stabilization fee only affected students who don’t receive full financial aid because their parents are the ones paying for their college education or because they work to pay for their studies. Raymond Rodriguez proved that theory to be wrong. Raymond Rodriguez, a third year Social Studies student and also an athlete of the UPRM commented: “The stabilization fee changed my normal routine completely. I’m an athlete here in the campus and I receive full financial aid plus I get diet privileges, and I still have to pay for the stabilization fee because the financial aid didn’t cover it, I had to get a job to start paying $160 every month in order to pay the fee. Since I’m an athlete this affected my training time and my studies. I’ve had to learn the hard way how to balance school, training, working and time for myself.”

The stabilization fee has not only affected students. It has also affected stores and other businesses around campus. The students of the UPRM are a great percentage of the clients of the businesses around campus. I run a business located in Mayagüez Terrace and the percentage of the clients who were students has changed drastically since the stabilization fee. The business I run is a SPA and before the stabilization fee we would always receive students on Wednesdays and Thursdays to get their hair done for that night. Since the stabilization fee students go once in a while because they now buy themselves a hair dryer and do their hairs themselves. Thankfully my business is not centered on students, but I know of business that had to close because their target clients were students and they would go days without selling.

The stabilization fee has affected students in many ways. Some students have had to decide what’s more important in their lives, some have had to start living a harder life balancing work and studies and some have had to engage in illegal activities. Other than students businesses have been affected because of the stabilization fee. Only the future will tell how many will still “survive” because of the fee.

Students of the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus protesting against the stabilization fee on the student strike. The students were going all around campus expressing their feelings toward the stabilization fee.

Fahrenheit UPR May 4, 2010

By: Jeremy Mendoza

Student Attrition has become a problem at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), among other factors have caused a decline in enrollment of the principal university establishment in the island. This has caused that two of the major private universities double and triple the amount students received from the UPR.

The exodus of students from the UPR in addition to the imposition of a fee of $ 400 per semester plus the guideline of the Board of Regents of the UPR to reduce by 1,000 the number of admissions in August 2011-12 and the evidence in the accreditation of the Middle States, destroy the competitiveness of the only university of the state.
The record of the University System Ana G. Méndez (SUAMG) is an interesting one. According To “El Nuevo Dia (Jan, 2011), in August was expected to reach a record 45,000 students, which is about 2,500 more than last year, according to Francisco Bartolomei, vice president of Marketing and Student Affairs, University System Ana SUAGM G. Méndez (SUAGM)”. Also they doubled its share of students from the UPR during the semester from August to December and now, for the January to May, although the registration process continues to anticipate that preliminary numbers will triple.

In the other hand, the case of Intermerican University is a similar one. According to “El Nuevo Dia” (Jan,2011) ” the Intermerican University of Puerto Rico has not yet finalize the data for the current semester because they are in registration, but the president of the university, Manuel Fernando, said he has a 3,000 increase in students, but they not say how many are of the UPR. They did reveal that from August to December were 500 college students of the first educational institution in the country, where the standard is receiving about 200 students. ”

But what really cause the drain, is it the work stoppage, or it is the government’s black agenda to establish the “Alianza Publico- Privadas Projects. Many media writer’s attribute the student drain to the work stoppage but according to survey conducted by student at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez one of the cause for attrition was not the work stoppage, with 64.4% it was the $400 fee imposition, which force student to cut expenses on clothes and food. (Survey Question 34).

The government’s black agenda to reduce the amount of money given to the University is actually main problem according to the Budget formula. “In the current fiscal year, the UPR was nearly $ 165 million in Pell Grants federal government to benefit some 40,300 students. That means each student received an average $ 4.082 in Government Pell Grants $ 1.320 federal …. to pay the tuition and $ 2.762 to spend on what they want. No student, not in Puerto Rico, but no state university in the states enjoys such privileges. In fact, the budget this year of the UPR which amounts to $ 1.460 million, only $ 90 million, or just 6.2%, from the payment of registration and that, more than half came from Pell Grants. The truth is that the UPR enjoy an enormous privilege and students too, studying in the UPR is a privilege” Governor Fortuño.
According to Ana Guadalupe, Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras,  the accreditation given by the Middle States to the UPR, which is currently on probation, can have an impact. The government’s agenda to stabilize the coffers of the state by the fiscal emergency law, represents UPR budget cut. But what really is the Government agenda with the UPR. Even member of the high chair know “The UPR is still the institution where the tuition is lower despite the share” Guadalupe recall.

The Government strategy to gain public opinion in order to establish privatize university (APP) is an excuse, provide trough that the UPR is on probation because of the work stoppage. The truth of the probation of the UPR is that on June 26, 2010 the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) placed on probation 10 of the 11 units of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) for lack of evidence of compliance with 2 of Standards 14 accreditation standards for leadership and governance, and Standard 11, educational offerings.

This strategy prove right, when actually thousands of walkout and work stoppage were made on the campus. The government’s CEO Luis Fortuño call student unlawful combatant who were there to destabilize the system and make the UPR be on probation. It prove right  when actually Ana Guadalupe explain that “Any institution that is having problems of accreditation is a factor that will weigh on students and their parents in terms of deciding where to go to school. Accreditation involves two things: recognition of academic excellence and guarantee of federal aid. ”

The real situation is that work stoppage and walkout were made to instruct the public about the real money squandering and the government’s black agenda to privatize the UPR. In accordance with Governor Fortuño, Guadalupe said: “Some students decide to leave because they prefer an environment where there below in academic management. The serious student has plans to complete his studies at a time” Well the real answer according to the survey conducted by UPRM, is that attrition from the UPR is because of the imposition of the stabilization fee which also extent affect the financial situation of many family.

But what’s real, is that the fee imposition is a delivered measure to push the student to the private university, because according to the Fortuño’s budget message “The year in the UPR costs on average $ 1.300, while the most expensive of private universities in Puerto Rico the year is $ 4,200”. This is why is so important to exile student, which translated into reduction in amount of money given to UPR.

“The imposition of the fee force me to take a full-time job, and move to a private university where the work load is less compare to the state university”  state Joel Chaparro, which was a student at University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla. This is the typical story among students which were force to work full-time and part-time jobs, 16.6% and depend on family support 51.8% (Survey Question 16).

The driving force behind the student movement

But according to the survey call 43.6% of the people interviewed  strongly disagree with the imposition of the fee, that why student’s walkout and work stoppage because they not agree with the action given by the government (Survey Question 37).

Ready and willing to provide assistance you deem necessary?

Instead of supporting the university community Fortuño answer that “in respect for the principle of university autonomy requires us to be prudent and not intervene until we require the university authorities. But at University officials say: we are here, ready and willing to provide the assistance you deem necessary, if you so determined”.

The Exodus: A Student Journey

Eduardo J. Mestey Oyola


The future is always looked upon as this great mass of mystery and excitement, but for the students of the University of Puerto Rico the word is starting to take a grimmer meaning. Fear, insecurity and frustration are taking away from the magic students usually feel when they embark in their collegiate journeys.

The current state of the University of Puerto Rico, and the Island itself, has left many students wondering about their future in both places. Few have been unaffected by the wave of instability that has swiped over the entire University System and Nation. Each day we learn about more students and citizens that are considering on abandoning this institution of higher learning and the country in which it stands.

Particularly affected by this occurrence is the Mayagüez Campus of The University of Puerto Rico (UPRM). Students have already left, before this semester even started. And based on a survey administered to 385 UPRM students, about .40% of the total student population, 5% of the participants are planning on leaving the Campus after the current academic session is through, to either complete their education in a private institution or leave for military service—an alternative that is growing ever more popular due to the benefits, opportunities and stability it provides. Then there’s another group of students. These are the ones that have vowed to remain until they have graduated from the UPRM, in spite of the turmoil or Stabilization Fee imposed on the student body, but will leave sometime afterwards. On this same survey it was found that around 37.1% of the students in the UPRM would wait until graduation to add themselves to the exodus of students and young professionals that is fleeing the Island.


The students and their journeys

Gabriela Luciano is a third-year student of Political Science in the UPRM. She is a perfect example of the group of students that plan on leaving Puerto Rico as soon as they have graduated. Since the student-administrative conflict began to flourish in the past year, Gabriela began strategizing and building up a foundation that would allow her to move from Puerto Rico faster after she graduates from the institution. As a direct consequence, she obtained and successfully participated in the Córdova-Fernos Congressional Internship Program during this last academic session. This, for her, served two purposes: number one, it was a way to “cleanse” herself from all the hectic happenings taking place in the System and number two, to form alliances that would aid her in entering a graduate school outside Puerto Rico and, subsequently, find a job.

For Gabriela, the key to helping Puerto Rico lies in Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. It is here where she plans on continuing her studies and work after she graduates from the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez.

Upon sitting down with Gabriela, I found out more about the reasons behind her avid desire to leave the Island. Consistent with the new perspective and experience gained during her internship in Washington D.C., and summed to the early desires she had to move out of the Island, Gabriela now feels she can do a lot more for Puerto Rico by not being here. As weird as it may sound it is not such a farfetched idea, so bear with her. Her reasoning is that as a lobbyist in Capitol Hill she would benefit Puerto Rico even more than what she would here, by becoming a lawyer or a public servant. Her hopes with this career choice is to try and influence positively every legislation put forth by Congress that would impact Puerto Rico in one way or another.

For Gabriela, the decision to move to the United States and continue her formation has not been an easy one. Family issues almost deterred her from leaving for the Internship Program, a key component to her plan. These same issues are now putting an extra pressure in the decisions she makes regarding her future, although she argues that no matter what she “will not stay in this Island or in this [Educational] System for long, it is a black hole that consumes your happiness”.

Black hole or not, it is clear that students are beginning to long for something else that neither the System nor the country can provide. They are also asking to be heard, and their way of speaking is by walking away.

For Francisco Maldonado, a would-be second-year student of the UPRM, this was the best way for him to speak. He is part of the student group that has already left the UPR System because of the insecurity and “impending doom”, as he says, that surrounds the System. Even though he says the Stabilization Fee was by no means a primary reason to leave the UPRM, it was something that helped in the decision process and made it easier. According to him, he prefers paying the extra money he would’ve had to pay in order to study in the UPRM to a private university in exchange for the peace of mind, educational stability and security they provide.

Francisco also reflected on his transfer and considers it one of his best decisions so far. For him the educational trade-off everyone is so bothered about is not even perceptible or easily dismissed. He says he is learning more—or at least paying more attention—due to the treatment he is receiving as a student in the Interamerican University at San Germán. “None of that superior tone or detached way of talking the professors addressed you in the UPRM is seen there” comments Francisco.

The factors to consider in order to move or transfer from the country or from the University are as varied and diverse as the people thinking about that possibility. But one thing is for certain: the University crisis is badly affecting its constituency, which is lashing out by moving away from the chaos that has been created. This abandonment is only detrimental to the University System and its mission of educating the citizenry of Puerto Rico. Empty halls bring about empty heads and the exodus of the students is creating precisely that.

The Interamerican University has become a refuge for students who, like Francisco, want to regain a sense of security for their studies and future.

Economics and capitalism in a few hundred words

By: Raúl Figueroa

We’ve all heard people talking about the economic crisis and economics and all those really complex subjects that we all seem to be experts.  But are we really experts? Dr. Carlos Del Valle, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez (UPRM), defined economics as the social science that tries to explain how we utilize versatile and scarce resources to satisfy unlimited and recurrent wants.

To solve the problem of production and distribution economic systems are created. The predominant economic system in the world is capitalism. Capitalism is based on private ownership of resources and distribution through market systems.  Within capitalism there are different paradigms, liberalism, keynesianism and neoliberalism are the main ones.

Liberalism’s basic philosophy is known as laissez faire a French expression meaning “allow to act.” The idea is that the best government is the least government. According to Economist Irving B. Tucker’s textbook Macroeconomics for Today, liberalism advocates believed that markets eliminate persistent shortages or surpluses making a continuing depression impossible. In 1929, the Great Depression started and resulted in drastic declines in output, severe unemployment, and severe deflation in almost every country of the world, proving that continuing depression is possible in the market system.

In 1936, seven years after the start the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes, a British economist offered an explanation of the crisis and presented a theory to solve it. Keynes claims that the government should play an active role in the economy, to encourage consumption of goods. He argues that government intervention is needed to prevent market failures.

Neoliberalism is the return of classical liberalism, but with a more aggressive approach, explained Cecilio Ortiz, UPRM Profesor  and doctor in public administration. Ortiz portrays neoliberalism as “liberalism on steroids.” Neoliberalism is contradictory of Keynesianism, fundamentally stating that the government should not exist. “Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government,” claims Milton Friedman, neoliberalism’s most prominent theorist.

The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” Milton Friedman criticizes the government to the extent that he claims it should not exist, taking the liberal ideology to another level, neoliberalism.

In an interview for Democracy Now, Noam Chomsky, Linguistics professor at Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) and renowned political analyst and critic, said markets are double-edged in the sense that they are created to protect the rich and powerful, and hurt the poor. Chomsky states that profit is privatized while the costs are socialized. So, the working class, support the system, while the rich get all the benefits, this is as he said “a good part of the reason why the third world is the third world and the first world is the first world.”

Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Augusto Pinochet’s administrations were all neoliberal, characterized with massive privatization of public services. Governor Luis Fortuño’s administration has followed this pattern also. He has shrunk government size by firing 27,000 public workers and the implementation of public-private alliances.

The $800 special fee, the halt of academic programs, the freezing of title advancements for professors are neoliberal policies implemented at the UPR as of now. In a survey answered by 385 UPRM students, 70% of the participants didn’t know what neoliberalism means.  Out of the 30% that affirmed knowing the meaning, 40.2% answered that neoliberal policies harm Puerto Rico, 19.6 % answered that neoliberal policies do not benefit Puerto Rico and 35.3% answered that the policies do benefit the colony.

“So what is called U.S. policy is a reflection, to a significant extent- a very significant extent, and always has been-of the distribution of power within the United States,” said Chomsky in the interview. Ortiz talked about the emergence of the “New Public Managing” as a manifestation of the neoliberal ideology in public administration. In this paradigm public administration emulates private administration, basically merging the private and public sector.  “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power,” said Benito Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.

In the capitalist market system, the working class supports the bourgeois class as they live off the production of workers. Rich corporations externalize costs and risk while keeping profit for themselves perpetuating inequality.

Leon Trotsky, Russian Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist, stated in his compilation Fascism: What it is and how to fight it, that the historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery. We have seen this to some extent in Puerto Rico with Law Number Seven, and in the United States with the anti-collective bargaining agreement bill signed by the governor of Wisconsin, both laws direct attacks to worker’s rights. There is a thin invisible line between neoliberalism and fascism, maybe a slight difference in the distribution of power.

L.G.B.T.T. Plus U.P.R. Plus P.J..: As Queer as it Sounds

L.G.B.T.T. Plus U.P.R. Plus P.J..: As Queer as it Sounds

Gaddiel Ruiz Rivera

Feature Story

From left to right, René Perez and Pedro Julio Serrano protesting against at the 2010 UPR Strike. They are two of various artist and public personalities that support the student cause.

Twenty-one years ago, in May 17, 1990 homosexuality was eliminated from the list of mental disease of the Worldwide Health Organization. The crescent activism for the rights of people who has different sexual orientation resulted into this after efforts against fundamentalists governments and churches which promote hatred towards the LGBTT Community. Do to the education and the struggle in pro of equality, up to ten countries legalized same-sex marriage, and fourteen legalized adoption by same-sex couples. But in Puerto Rico, colony of the United States and actually governed by neoliberal politicians, the social movements still have a great road to cross. However, the University of Puerto Rico had become a pillar to create consciousness by educating the bases and activating the community to move forward through repression.

It is now 2011 and the situation in the island politics and laws had not changed too much, but at least the LGBTT Community has a better panorama of how discrimination and segregation shows in each single corner of society. But all what was achieved didn’t came because casualty. There is a face that was dreaming about an inclusive Puerto Rico for everyone, even when the obstacles he faced were enough to stop anyone. Graduated in Communications of the University of Puerto Rico, the communications manager of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Pedro Julio Serrano is the most known Puerto Rican activist in and out of the island.

Pedro Julio Serrano also founded in Puerto Rico an organization named Puerto Rico for All (Puerto Rico Para Tod@s in Spanish) to fight for inclusion of queer people in the social project of the Country. But it was not as easy as it is read. Pedro Julio Serrano was several times under threat of death, one of the occasions pointed by masked heaters with long firearms who yelled at him “we are going to shut you down, maricón”. He also struggled with the H.I.V. (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the televise media chasing of WAPA-TV with the program of “Super Exclusivo”, the New Progressive Party politicians and the Christian fundamentalists expressions of hate by Wanda Rolón and Jorge Raschke; nothing stopped him.

During the UPR Strike, he publicly expressed in favor of the students claims and in repudiation of the neoliberal actions of the Administration. Thanks to his energy and constancy, and do to the UPR 2010 Strike, Pedro Julio encouraged the LGBTT Community in two campuses of the university system. In the Río Piedras campus, the Committee Against Homophobia and Discrimination; in the Mayagüez campus, the No-Name Queer Collective.

Both organizations counts with the stimulation of P.J. (the friendly motto used to refer to Serrano) and do their own activities in and out of the university from discussion forums to educate about tolerance and respect, to protests to denounce the institutionalized homophobia of the State. “Our activism is important for society. It’s imperative that each of you do what is possible from your position as students to create a healthier path for upcoming generations. Use your abilities, your knowledge to become and activist; each simple act counts!” said P.J. in an open forum at the UPR of Mayagüez at the Infirmary Building amphitheater.

Samarie Ann Vega, undergraduate student of Social Sciences at the Mayagüez campus and member of the No-Name Queer Collective, expressed that “is not just against the stabilization fee and the LGBTT Community exclusion of rights for what we fight. It is responsibility of everyone to ensure that the government is not legislating for bureaucracy but for the society in general.”

Vega is working on a research to implement a gender and sexuality education for public schools to “stimulate equality and early education of diversity” for the next generations. “The detriment of the public education is reflected in the university, and is a task I have to serve as activist in pro of a better Puerto Rico.”

Pedro Julio Serrano expressing against Governor Luis Fortuño at the March Against Homophobia and Discrimination. In the center, Francheska González, victim of the rampage hate in Puerto Rico.

P.J., more than a guide for Samarie Ann, is a friend. The friendship he has with the young activists of the university is what secretly contributes to his strength. That kind heart is the fountain of courage that keeps him strong to denunciate hatred. One of the most known cases is the Jorge Steven murder. Since this fatal demonstration of homophobia appeared on the news, is more what is occurring in Puerto Rico to stop the violence against the LGBTT Community.

“Jorge Steven death marked a difference on what was happening with us in the media and society. Is true that religious fanatics are now spreading hate in the media, but also we are moving through the streets, through education, to change this society little by little” said Vega.

The most recent case of violence towards the community, in this case what is named transphobia, was the aggressive attack to the transsexual Francheska González. Both, Pedro Julio and Francheska marched last Tuesday in San Juan to celebrate de International Day Against Homophobia, also the 21st anniversary of the homosexuality as a mental disease.

P.J. ideals are always in favor of any group affected by the institutions and segregation. For Serrano, the stabilization fee is a “total abuse” to dismantle the public university. “A great number of LGBTT students have no support from their family; they struggle constantly to find a job, to study and to involve in society with the rampage hate promoted by politicians since ever. The stabilization fee is just another problem added to interfere with a healthy education for everyone in Puerto Rico”, said Pedro Julio.

The message he professes is always intentioned to appeal our feelings, to encourage us to fight for the rights, for a public and free education, and for our country independence. “Puerto Ricans deserve the best life quality that historically has been denied to us. I understood many years ago that was not fair enough to fight for individual freedom, we must fight for the collective freedom.”

Pedro Julio expressing in favor of the students interests at the Mayagüez campus. “Puerto Ricans deserve the best life quality that historically has been denied to us.”

Will the $800 Fee Leave the UPR Barren?

By: Gabriel Mejia

     The $800 stabilization fee is there to help the UPR with its economic situation but does it help the students.
In the second semester of the academic year 2010-2011 students from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) were forced to pay a fee to help relive the economic crisis that plagued the UPR system. This fee labeled as a Stabilization Fee was of the sum of $800 and was imposed on the whole of the student body of the UPR system. This Fee was applied in equal measure to all students regardless of their economic status. For this reason some students have been forced to find alternate measures to pay this fee. In the worst of cases some students have been forced to relocate as a means to finish their studies.
With this fee going in effect through all 11 campuses the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM) has also suffered losses in regards with the students who have left the University. Every year students cone and go for various reasons. Some are new arrivals, others are transfers and some are continuing their education. To counterbalance this number there are students graduating, some transferring in and lastly others are dropping out. With the addition of the $800 stabilization fee some students will find themselves without sufficient funds to pay their tuition.
According to a survey recently conducted by students in a Media Writing course at UPRM, approximately half of 385 students consulted are significantly affected by the imposition of the $800 stabilization fee. Of those afore mentioned student significantly affected by the imposition of the stabilization fee, 41 percent said that they pay for their college expenses with the Pell Grant. Thus students who survived on what was left over from the Pell Grant will be significantly shorter on funds. More so, students whose Pell Grant only covered their studies found themselves this semester with an $800 debt.
Among those students who find themselves unable to pay their tuition is 23 year old biology student Jose González. Jose González is a former student of the UPRM who now finds himself working at a full-time job. Because he paid his tuition by himself when the $800 was set in place he decided to work for a year rather than take a student loan. “Maybe I’ll take longer but I’ll do it my way.” Afterwards he went on to say that he would go back to the UPRM but not before he could do it his own way. Mr. González also stated that he would take this time to see just where the UPR was going with this stabilization fee.
That being said UPRM students are a resourceful breed. Students like 19 year old biology student Omar Feliciano who says that students just have to wait till the storm passes. “Things are bad now but just give it some time and it’ll mellow out.” According to him all this tension is due to the strike that occurred in the second semester of the academic year 2009-2010 and also to the way in which the semesters were organized. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen but what is apparent is that the amount of students admitted into the UPR decreases every year.
The trend of the diminishing student admissions is one set recently and not by the implementation of the stabilization fee as the most current records provided by shows that the decline in the student admissions began in the year 2008-2009. During that period the decline in student admissions up to the year 2010-2011 is approximately is that of 280 admissions. That being said the greatest drop in student admissions occurred from the academic year of 2009-2010 to 2010-2011 as the number of admissions dropped that year by 245 admissions.  Thus 87 percent of the decrease in student admissions occurred in that one year alone.
Though there has been a constant decrease in the number of student admissions from 2007 before that the student population was increasing. In fact according to statistical data published in there was a steady increase in the number of the student population until the fall of 2006. This date being much earlier than the implementation of the stabilization fee or its related strike.
The pandemonium that came with the stabilization fee has left students without a clear sense of how deeply it has affected the UPR community. Based on the results from the Media Writing survey only less than one percent of the student community was unaffected by the implementation of the stabilization fee. While a few students have stated that the fee has had no effect on them it is clear that a great deal of the student community finds itself at odds with the fee and its future.

Puerto Rico’s High Education

By: Jessica E. Pluguez Serrano

Is their a difference when choosing between a public university or a private one?. This has been questioned as the years have passed. InPuerto Ricothere are many private universities such as the Interamerican, Polytechnic in Hato Rey, many more, but there is only one public university,UniversityofPuerto Ricowith various campuses around the island.

The choice depends on their economical status, do the work, their parents contribution, grants. Some have to choose which offers the best curriculum of what they want to study. Many won’t attend college and just get a short career. Public colleges are those that are largely supported by state funds, the tuition fee is less, admission is harder due to the exaggerated applicants, most professors don’t worry about the status of their students. Private colleges are very expensive, because they depend on the tuition fee to keep the university open; the admission is quite easy, because they need students to pay for the institution.

Many students have their own opinion when it comes to choosing. “I choose the public education because the cost of tuition is less and because of its reputation.” Said by Isis Ortiz student of theUniversityofPuerto Ricocampus of Mayagüez(UPRM).  Also Adrian Santiago commented that he prefers the UPRM because is more accessible and parents wanted him to attend this university. In the other hand, Juan de Santiago, student of the Interamerican(INTER) campus of San German said:” I attend a private university because all my life attended private school and I like the system.” The decision depends on the student and needs.

In the past year some issues have made the choice a bit easier for some students. In theUniversityofPuerto Ricothere was a strike in May of 2010, because they government wanted to impose a stabilization fee of $800. This strike was for two months, and this means no class no work. The strike that began at the main Rio Piedras campus swept to 10 of the university’s 11 campuses, cost one campus rector her job and landed the student negotiating committee in court. Eventually the fee was imposed and the total cost for a whole semester was very affected. Because of this several activities to manifest their point of view were made. In the campus of Mayagüez there was a “pintata” in which student wrote in the walls of a building their opinion of the fee.

The wall painted in the “pintata” the past October 5, 2010, expressing how student feel about the situation the system of the UPR is going through.

Due to these situations there was a big amount of drop outs, and out of a total of 380, that answered a survey, 37% of them have considered transferring to another university. Some students didn’t even waist their time getting admitted. They rather pay more and finish on time. Other activities like a march took place onDecember 22, 2010against the $800 fee. Students had different ways to express their opinion about the new fee.

March that took place on December 22, 2010, in the University of Puerto Rico in the Mayagüez campus, activity made to express their strong disagreement of the government to impose a $800 fee.

A private university you would never see these kinds of actions because they are not only prohibited to do so, but because they are already paying a big amount of tuition and they don’t want risk getting a raise. Almost anyone can enter a private university because their requirements are very low. The low income levels of private school students is a result of the availability of Federal funds for which these students are eligible, especially the Pell Tuition Grants program, a program to help students from low income families finance their college education. As noted above, about 90 percent of the 8,000 students matriculated at theUniversityofTuraboreceive Pell grants.

This controversial topic will prevail for many years, choices will always be different, and it will always depend on the student need or capacities. By this I mean that those who get admitted to the UPR system know they will face a challenge, it is no like drinking water, in the other hand the private education it is much easier due that the have to keep their students so they can maintain their institution open.

Why do graduated students decide to leave Puerto Rico and go to the States?

By Valeria N. Seda Calderón

Leaving to other country means to enter in a new way of life in which people is affected physical and psychologically.

Immigration has always been a practice used by people in search of a better   quality of life. Back in the early 20th century, migrant workers in China were brought to the States as cheap laborers seeking a brighter future. Since they were from impoverished communities, the only positive solution they could find was to leave home and move to the States because it was the wealthiest country at the time, still to this day being one of the most economically developed. Not much has changed since those times, and many people still turn to immigration in look of better educational and professional opportunities.

The economic crisis that we have been facing in recent times has turned into a huge national recession, and many smaller countries like Puerto Rico have been affected in a severe way. Because of the effects of the recession, jobs are scarce, leaving many recently graduated students with no other option than to take the decision to move out and leave for other countries in search of a better future in their respective job fields. As a result of this, every year, the island is left with a rapidly decreasing population of young professionals.

According to a survey recently conducted by UPR students, out of 385 respondents, 140 students are planning to move out to the States after they graduate, be it to enroll in a graduate school, to look for a job, for family matters or to join the military. As an example of one of these we can include the case of recently graduated UPRM student Bernardo Puebla.

Bernardo is a graduate mechanical engineering major and is actually working in the States. Like other fellow students, a company that came to Puerto Rico in search of new employees hired him. “The economic burden of starting a master’s on your own money”, he answered, when asked about his reasons for leaving. “I wanted to start my professional career and eventually start and complete my master’s degree. Since there are more companies in the States, there are more job opportunities”.

Most other graduated students are not so lucky though, less now with the recent student strikes, and many plan to leave Puerto Rico on their own in search of a job opportunity that may never come. To them, he recommends “attending job fairs, applying online, using job search websites and networking with recruiter and company representatives” as methods to help them maximize their chances of success in finding a job.

Students leave their country in search of better job opportunities leaving everything for an unknown new life.

Leaving the economic aspect behind, when students are to decide if leaving the island to work in another country they should be aware of the influence this would have on their personal lifestyle. Things like language, culture and the entire environment around them are going to change, as well as the people they interact with. This would put them in a state of adaptation that could last from months to even years, depending on the individual’s social openness.

All of this would unavoidably affect their personal life, because settling down in a foreign and unknown place is not an easy task. Making new friends, being apart from their family and speaking a language not native to them can be hard and uncomfortable for some. These might be understandable reasons why, on the other hand, other students prefer to to stay and try their luck in the island.

Julio Martínez is also a graduate mechanical engineering major. In his case, he decided to stay and had to wait a whole year before finally finding a local job. “I didn’t want to leave because I like it here, most of my friends and family are here and I wouldn’t like to leave this all behind.” When asked if it was worth the wait, he said “well the process was very unpleasant, but in the end it was totally worth it, I finally got what I wanted”.

Nowadays, graduate students and future graduates have to face the reality that the economic factor is very important and in some cases is worth the risk of leaving your country in search of the opportunity of a better future. Those who stay in the island might have to endure a longer wait period in order to get a good job but most certainly they will eventually get it, as long as they focus and never stop trying.

When students graduate from college, they have to look for a way to win money using the skills that they have gained and prepared for through their education. And if the opportunity arises for a good employment but requires leaving everything behind, it is without a doubt one of the hardest decisions a person can take in their life, one from which their future will depend and thus should be thought thoroughly.

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