UP Diliman pushes back vs red-tagging, vows to uphold critical thinking, academic freedom

UP Diliman pushes back vs red-tagging, vows to uphold critical thinking, academic freedom
The UP Diliman campus is seen in this undated file photo
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines Diliman has pushed back against red-tagging and false accusations of recruiting communities, as it vowed to continue upholding its “time-honored traditions of academic freedom and critical thinking.”

UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo said Friday that the threat to defund UP was borne of a “misunderstanding” that the university does nothing but recruit communists.

“Those who blame UP for breeding communists forget that UP has bred more scientists, artists, doctors, lawyers, diplomats and civil servants,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to pull funds for the university in relation to Ateneo de Manila students holding a strike to hold the government accountable for its disaster response.

Nemenzo asserted that what crticis brand as subversive “comes from discontent at the way things are, a desire for change.”

He explained that UP exposes its students to different perspectives and allows them to learn to think on their own and critically. “In keeping with its tradition of academic freedom, UP is a safe haven for civilized and intelligent discourse,” Nemenzo also said.

But the UP Diliman chancellor stressed that the university has “no place for intolerance, bigotry and red-tagging,” that last of which he stressed is dangerous as it focused on labels over substance.

“Academic freedom is essential for the life of the mind and for UP’s dual role as knowledge producer and social critic. We play the role of social critic from a position of evidence-based scholarship and moral courage. This role is  a distinct service to the nation,” he also said.

“We will strongly defend the University’s time-honored traditions of academic freedom and critical thinking. UP’s proud history of service and activisim has shown that we can do both,” Nemenzo added.

Calls to end semester

Nemenzo also said that the calls to end the semester should not be seen as “abandonment of one’s education” but as an “expression of their commitment to teaching and learning, which has undeniably suffered due to the pandemic and recent spate of typhoons.”

Last weekend, a petition by over 130 UP Diliman faculty members urged the university administration to end the first term immediately and instead implement a “pass or drop” system.

"The struggles of the learners are further intensified by the recent calamities," the petition read, "leaving students and faculty from Bicol, Cagayan, Isabela, Marikina and Rizal, among others with an indefinite and debilitating loss of electricity and internet connection, destruction of properties and homes and loss of loved ones."

Nemenzo, however, said that the university “cannot renege on its responsibility to educate.”

“At a time of great economic need and political ferment, the University is all the more needed—as a place where we can challenge ideas, sharpen our positions, and gain clarity about the social and political issues confronting our society. This is UP’s mission and we have to continue this task,” Nemenzo added. 

UP Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs on Thursday also denied that the university recruits communists as it asserted that it remains an educational institution that has, and continues to, produce experts and even government officials. — Kristine Joy Patag



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