Picture this scenario: with nearly no buffer from the previous semester, you go home filled with anticipation for a breather to celebrate the once-a-year yuletide festivities, only for that joy to be abruptly cut short as you find your feet stepping on campus after barely two weeks.
This is the reality for many Angelites, whose second semester had been marked by the banes of financial demands brought by the early onset of the second semester and a holiday vacation limited by an inconsiderate, and, in its fullest sense, anti-student academic calendar.
The first bane: Early start of a new semester
To contextualize, the first semester for the school year 2023-2024 concluded on November 18, 2023. This schedule was immediately stirred up to be a major problem with Holy Angel University (HAU) announcing that the succeeding semester would start on December 12.
Likewise, enrollment, which demanded a lump sum of around 14,000 pesos from students, aside from the unsettled accounts from the previous semester, played early, causing financial strains as they and their families scrambled for means to settle the fees to continue their education.
This policy, as implemented, saw the university record a 292 attrition from its continuing students. The said figure is a testament to the fact that the early onset of the second semester is more than just a personal struggle—rather, it is an injustice.
Instead of providing accessible education, this kind of neoliberal policy forces student after student, families after families, to walk in a financial tightrope that makes education a burden rather than a privilege for them to have a benefit from.
The second bane: A breather sacrificed
Problems pertaining to the academic calendar for the second semester did not end with its commencement. Much more during the scheduled holiday breather, students were forced to maximize their personal and family time in a less than two-week break.
With the Christmas vacation beginning on December 21, 2023, and ending on January 2 of the following year, it was indeed a short break for Angelites. What is more disappointing is that during the said period, many students were also expected to fulfill requirements—something that is contradictory to what should have been their “break” from academics.
Breathless, even the days leading up to the preliminary examinations on January 24 to 27, which, in the past, were used as opportunity for students to rest and review, were instead allotted as additional days of learning and assessment. Work after work, demands after demands, were imposed on students just to keep up with an early-looming examination.
Several studies suggest that vacations are helpful for students to improve their wellbeing by reducing stress and revitalizing productivity.
Such being said, HAU’s short holiday vacation which sadly had also been occupied by academic demands, and its removal of buffer days towards the examinations, put students in the unfavorable position of immense exhaustion thereafter.
HAU’s academic calendar for the second semester is a continuing proof that the institution that pledged to provide “student first” policies is instead a self-serving and unheeding showman that puts forth its capitalist agenda rather than the needs of its most important stakeholders—its students.
Now, picture this another scenario: you get enough time to recover financially before another semester starts, you get to revel in the beauty of the yuletide season, and, more importantly, get to freely rest.
As idealistic as it may seem, this other picture should not have been a fantasy.
Instead of treating Angelites as profit pawns or even cogs in a machine that do not require a buffer or breather, HAU should see its students as its sparking
responsibility—students whose voices are to be heard and ideas are to be valued.
Calls from the studentry have been made, clamors are constantly raised, and it is long overdue that the university heeds to them.
HAU should amplify the needs of its students and provide policies that will no longer give them banes from the profit-oriented and fast-paced view of the institution, but rather gains from it being a source of a competent and compassionate educational system that genuinely puts forth Angelites above all else.
Opinion by Godwin Pring
Photo from Michelle Shane Apostol
Layout by Winston Adam Lejarde