#HAUyokoNa: Students urge Holy Angel University to suspend online classes
ANGELES, Philippines – Faced with online classes in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, students of Holy Angel University (HAU) in Pampanga have been urging school administrators to consider their concerns.
HAU has been holding online classes since the start of the summer term on April 13. But students have been struggling due to lack of devices and poor internet, on top of other challenges posed by the Luzon lockdown.
At least two student-led petitions have cropped up since the lockdown started last March 17.
In a 7-point petition, The Angelite publication along with Anakbayan HAU, Bahaghari HAU, and student councils and college organizations urged administrators to stop online classes, deduct payments for unused services throughout the pandemic, freeze increases in tuition and other fees, and provide a breakdown of the tuition.
The groups also pushed for shifting the academic calendar to August instead of July, provision of student discounts instead of loans, and guaranteed income for the school's employees.
As of Sunday, April 26, more than 7,700 people have signed the 7-point petition.
"We strongly condemn the inconsiderate and anti-poor policies that HAU has exhibited in the course of this pandemic when for the longest time, accessible quality education has been its motto," said The Angelite in the petition.
"[They are] implementing guidelines that are contrary to the calls of the student majority, offering sugarcoated compromises instead of concrete plans and solutions to address issues."
The student groups led an online rally on Friday, April 24, with the hashtag #HAUyokoNa. By Friday night, the hashtag had become a Twitter trending topic in the Philippines, reaching more than 8,338 tweets.
Call for compassion
HAU Speak Now, an alliance of organizations seeking to protect the rights and welfare of students, led another petition urging the administration to push back deadlines for payment of remaining accounts and entrance fees for the summer term.
It added that families may struggle to pay school fees in light of the restrictions put in place for the lockdown.
"Kumakatok kami sa Holy Angel University administrators na sa panahon na matindi ang krisis ay magkaroon ito ng pag-unawa at pagkahabag sa kalagayan ng kanyang naghihirap na estudyante. Marami sa mga magulang ang walang trabaho at sapat lang [ang] naipon para tustusan ang kanilang pang araw-araw na kakainin," HAU Speak Now said.
(We're knocking on the hearts of Holy Angel University administrators during this crisis to be compassionate about the welfare of their struggling students. Many parents are now unemployed and only have enough saved up to put some food on the table.)
For its part, the HAU Student Council said it is preparing contingency measures in case the online classes continue. These include possibly providing phones and load through fundraisers and donation drives.
"We will support a certain number of students to sustain online classes, but our capacity is small. We will try to ask if [the administration] can realign the budget that we can use for students," said Paul Ernest Carreon, president of the HAU Student Council.
As for the groups' appeal to move the academic calendar, Carreon noted that there are students who take on summer jobs to get funds for the next semester. But with the lockdown now, more time would be needed to look for funding.
Carreon gave an assurance that the HAU Student Council is coordinating with the administration to help reach a compromise. – Rappler.com
Allena Therese Juguilon is a Rappler Mover in Angeles City, Pampanga. She is a graduating Grade 12 student at Holy Family Academy and is the editor in chief of Cor Unum.