Open letter to my UPD students

N.B. – This is an open letter to my students at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman currently enrolled in the four undergraduate and graduate courses I am handling this semester. The response rate in the first paragraph is periodically updated as I receive more replies.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my email this morning, correctly labeled as “disposition check” by one of your classmates. That we have a response rate of 65.12 percent despite the short notice is much appreciated.

We don’t need to discuss as a group your answers to the questions “Are you okay?” and “Do you want to suspend classes this week?” Suffice it to say that many of you are not okay and most of you prefer to suspend classes, for reasons both personal and political.

Given the circumstances beyond our immediate control (but within our collective consternation), we shall NOT have online classes this week. Please note that I already unilaterally decided this morning to extend the deadlines for your papers. Depending on the situation in the coming weeks and months, the deadlines can still be further adjusted.

The bottom line is clear: You need to focus on your health, as well as your family’s. We all need to strengthen our bodies as we strengthen our resolve to change the leaders who prefer red-tagging over mass testing, as well as tarpaulin production over mass vaccination.

There are lessons that cannot be taught in a physical or online classroom. You are all faced with the challenge to learn from the sufferings of the poor and powerless and the privileges of the rich and powerful. Once you realize the myth of neutrality and learn to take sides, you should learn an important lesson in Journalism: It is every journalist’s ethical obligation to fight injustices.

After reading this short letter, please talk to your classmates, friends and loved ones and do your own “disposition check.” And if it is not too much to ask, try to convince them of the validity of asserting and the correctness of fighting. Remember the most urgent tasks we always hear at the end of every online class: Stay safe, stay healthy and end impunity.

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