Last April 30, 2020, Visayas State University (VSU) released an official statement resuming the second semester of school year 2019-2020 amid the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in place in the city of Baybay until the end of May. VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin signed a series of memorandum circulars dated last April 29, 2020 that details the university's next initiatives after April 30, 2020.
A few days after the announcement, some students expressed dismay as they were expecting execution of the trending #MassPromotion campaign which most likely not be the case of VSU.
Despite the discontentment, some students saw the positive side of the University’s decision to continue the semester without requiring students to go back to the campuses.
Jose Roland Soria, a sophomore BS Agriculture student from Cebu City, felt worried about the quality of training that he will receive, knowing that the rest of 2nd semester will be spent at home.
“I don’t want to finish a half-cooked semester. I’m not trying to boast around, but I want to learn because these are the final lessons that we will use for the rest of our careers. We would struggle in our board exams if we can’t hold classes properly. But I’m getting tired too. Whatever their [the University] decision is, I would gladly follow it because they know better.
AB English student John Anton Liston believed that the safety of the students should be a priority over face-to-face formal education should no longer be an option because the safety of everyone should be prioritized.
“In times like this, where our nation declared a state of emergency, education is no longer an option since the safety of everyone should be prioritized. There will be no education if there are no learners left, and we can resume our classes if this global pandemic will end.”
A Freshman BS Bio student from Southern Leyte, Leonardo Cadavos Jr. sees the word “leniency” differently from how the University defines it.
“I think the best way to impose the word “leniency and equity” among the students is to implement mass promotion or ending the rest of the 2nd semester.Requirements with deadlines beyond March 13 or by the time that our University President told us to go to our respective homes should not be considered for submission of grades.”
Eloisa Kyle Reyes, a freshman Vet Med student was uncertain if VSU’s initiative was good for everyone or otherwise. Nonetheless she commends the university for giving students a chance to comply the remaining requirements to finish the semester.
“Students in universities in Leyte and in some places, some of the students filed petitions and were very vocal on social media. But Viscans were quiet and were just waiting for the administration's decision. I don’t know if I’m going to be happy or sad with ending the semester this way. Nevertheless, I still commend VSU for giving students a chance to comply with their requirements so as not to fail their subjects.”
Sophomore BCAED student Rhoda Paler, expresses her concern as regards to grades, especially that she is a scholar of the university.
“Students are all given a passing mark but how about the scholars? I am one of those students because I am a scholar and to be one helps me a lot. We have to maintain our grades to be included in the scholarship bracket. I may sound demanding but all I want is to pass the course. But I am hoping that through complying with some tasks online, we could still stretch our grades up because we’re not confident enough with our previous scores before the suspension. I also suggest that instructors must have consultation hours for students via email or messenger before posting our final grades so that we will know what we missed and how we got the grade.”
First year BS Statistics student Gerald Linganay shares concern for the students who mat need to extend because of the university’s choice to suspend summer classes this year.
“This would mean extension for those students who are supposed to have their summer classes this year. But this is no one’s fault anyway. The security and safety of students as well as the teachers should be the number one priority.”
When asked about VSU’s decision of a virtual graduation, Cristlyn Bacariza, a senior AgEng student would prefer to attend the formal graduation ceremony next year rather than settle with a virtual one.
“For the idea of a virtual graduation ceremony, I'm not sure. Not all graduating students can afford better internet connection. Personally, it's okay that we don't have a formal graduation for now, but we can attend the graduation ceremony in the school year of 2020-2021.”
Paul Vincent Fornis, a sophomore BSED student is unsatisfied with a virtual graduation as well. However, he suggests a different way to hold the graduation rites.
“It's not satisfying to just have a "virtual graduation" for our graduating students. There should still be in-person rites as soon as this pandemic subsides. Whatever happens, graduation is something momentous and unforgettable for everyone. I think it's always possible. By college or by degree program grad, why not?”
Senior AB English student Donna Marie Villafane hopes for the VSU administration’s kind consideration to still hold a graduation ceremony for all graduating students.
“We all want to finish college, but with the current situation, that still seems impossible. We hope that we graduating students would be given a chance to experience the fruit of our hard work in college. We are aware of the prevailing situation and we are ready to wait for our rightful time to walk on that stage.”
There are still many questions from the students that remain unanswered. The decision made by the VSU Board of Regents (VSU BOR) was a concerted stand to maintain safety and well being of VSU students and staff with minimal sacrifice on the quality of education that the university could offer.
Disagreements are inevitable. However, amid these conflicts and opposing views, the main objective is to reach a justifiable, lenient, equitable and student-friendly decision that will make the whole VSU community proud.
Margraf von Jean Eslopor contributed in this story