The influx of first-year students comprising the first batch of K-12 graduates brought to the fore the validity, if not practicability, of the recruitment ban under the University’s Code of Student Conduct (CSC).

Article IV, Section 1.3.1.d of the CSC penalizes erring members of organizations who accept students who have not completed one semester with suspension from one semester to one academic year, and even possibly with expulsion. Meanwhile, the student who has not completed the one-semester residency but was accepted to the organization will be brought for counseling.

Further, Article IV, Section 2.2.1.b of the CSC provides that student organizations found violating the provision shall be meted with the following penalties: for first violation, suspension of registration for six months; for second violation, suspension of registration for one year; and for third violation, disqualification from registration for at least five years, or until imposed by the disciplinary body.

State of student formations

The introduction of the Code of Student Conduct has been met with contention even before it was formally adopted by the University in 2014.

As early as 2009, various student formations opposed the drafting of the Code for allegedly violating students’ right to organize and to assemble. Amid this opposition, the University Council recommended its approval to the Board of Regents in 2012. The latter gave its assent in 2014.

Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Jerwin Agpaoa admitted that this prohibition is a “confused rule” because first years are actually entitled to participate in organizational recruitment process but their induction as members should be after the first semester, or in case of fraternities and sororities, after one academic year. Agpaoa also explained that the rationale behind this prohibition was to allow new students to adjust in their new life in the university.

University Student Council (USC) Councilor Nacho Domingo, Head of the Committee of Organizations, Fraternities, Sororities, belied the stated rationale of the prohibition. He said that the administration has not proven that students who joined organizations on their first year in the university hindered them from excelling in their academics.

Agpaoa revealed that his office is studying the lifting of the prohibition since most students who enter the University are no longer minors and may already decide for themselves. He also agreed with Domingo’s point that some students use their membership in their organizations as a way to improve their academic performance or to help them adjust, particularly those who came from far provinces.

A president from a socio-cultural and special interest student organization, who refused to be named, echoed Domingo’s and Agpaoa’s sentiments. “UP is an open university and that this kind of Code restricts the freshmen’s freedom,” she said.

Domingo added that instead of prohibiting freshies from joining organizations, the administration should prioritize the welfare of student organizations who suffer from lack of funds, lack of tambayan, and high rental fees, among others.

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