What the UP Administration and the governments who have supported that 300% tuition fee increase have created here are the conditions for the poor’s discomfort and embarrassment, in a space that should be the bastion of equality and sameness.
In the 90’s, paying at most a P5,400 tuition fee, one of us was not better than another, and in fact, discomfiture was for the rich who were even there at all. In the 90’s, the best and the brightest from the public schools and provinces outdid all of us middle class and rich in the classroom: they were in the State U for reasons that had everything to do with their skills and intelligence. The rest of us were statistics, the smaller number of students who paid full tuition, because we could.
In 2013, you can only imagine the kind of stigma attached to a student being told by a teacher that she has to step out of the classroom because she has yet to pay her tuition fees or student loans.
Imagine what goes through a student’s head, faced with the fact of unpaid fees, but wanting to learn and thinking the world still of education, and of the State University in particular. Imagine what it is like to go to school for five months, with only the desire to learn fueling you, the empty stomach and pocket things you can ignore.
Imagine a context within which you are the strange one having a difficult time, if not the one who has nowhere to run. Imagine a University whose bureaucracy is most unkind, and which instead of being source of comfort and identity, becomes stark reminder of how hopeless one’s poverty is.