After two long years of learning in front of screens, last week, the wish of many Sillimanians was granted — face-to-face (F2F) classes will finally return.
Based on the details shared by Silliman University (SU) President Dr. Betty Cernol McCann on March 23, we know the SU’s priorities are for courses that require a hands-on approach. The university is also preparing its facilities to ensure the protection of students and teachers from COVID-19.
However, there is still a lot we do not know. What will happen to those who reside away from Dumaguete? And how will the university aid the students and faculty’s transition back to life on campus? These are only a few of the many questions we are still finding the answers to. Hence, the Weekly Sillimanian urges the SU administration to release a detailed set of guidelines and conditions for the return of F2F classes as soon as possible.
Although we have more than a month left until May 2, there is a lot to prepare for in-person classes. First of all, students and faculty will have to financially get ready for transportation and lodging. And considering that there are Sillimanians residing not just on other islands but also in other countries, dealing with bureaucracy for travel could take days to weeks.
Unfortunately, there are still more things to consider. We still do not know if an increase in tuition fees will be implemented given the imminent use of more university facilities. If this is the case, students would have to pay more beyond other unavoidable expenses for food and class materials. This might not even be possible to accomplish given the recent price increases and the limited availability of employment in our economy.
Also, what happens to students, specifically those in hands-on courses, that cannot physically be on campus? How would they be graded, considering their financial and logistical restraints that are beyond their control?
Along with the aforementioned concerns, the Weekly Sillimanian would also want to ask for some clarifications regarding the national elections this May 9. Many Sillimanians are first-time voters, but along with this, many are registered in areas outside Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental, meaning, they have to vote in their respective towns or cities where they are registered.
The start of in-person classes will be on May 2, and these voters will be called to their polling precincts on May 9. We just want to clarify or get some answers on behalf of the students: Are there any remedies or planned undertakings to be done regarding these constraints? Surely we cannot deny especially the first-time voters their opportunity to exercise their right to suffrage.
We have thought of this considering that today is the election season, and aside from finances and academic constraints, the Sillimanians especially those residing outside the province will also have to deal with the conflict of being away from their hometowns to vote. We had also thought that solving this through a bureaucratic process would be time-consuming and costly for students. We are asking the university administration for a clear and comprehensive roadmap regarding this matter.
When money and other resources are hard to come by, students and teachers can benefit a lot from the university’s compassion and empathy. We urge the administration to consider our limitations and think twice before making decisions that could further burden our transition process back to F2F classes. Most importantly, we hope that the previously mentioned set of guidelines and conditions will be released soon. With such, we could finally step foot on Silliman’s soil again with no worries.