MY LAST column, titled “Faculty of Lemons,” has been the subject of discussion in the blog world.

For the record, the “Faculty” in the title and the article referred to Arts and Letters in general, not solely its faculty or teaching staff. Although I wrote that the quality of the faculty in the school is “thinning,” I didn’t mean that the teachers alone were the “Lemons” I was writing about. However their thinning number, the quality teachers of the Faculty, such as Dean Armando de Jesus, Assistant Dean Nancy Tabirara, Prof. Alfredo Co, and many others like them, are worthy of admiration and emulation. They put to shame their colleagues who, by their incompetence and paltry intellect, diminish the tradition of excellence in the Faculty.

I must add here that I, too, am a member of the “Faculty” since I am a student there. We’re all in this together, lemon-wise.

The point of the article really was to cite how the declining quality of college could be gauged by the general poor quality of student leadership and government, as gleaned from the refusal of officers of the Artlets Student Council to explain the commotion that attended the holding of the Quest for the Ideal Artlets Personality.

The article questioned the lack of transparency and accountability of Nina Kristine Hilario, the council vice-president who was chief organizer of the beauty contest and who refused to answer questions relating to the judges’ walkout in the contest.

To the credit of the faculty advisers in Artlets, they had encouraged the student council to come clean and be transparent about what happened in the contest.

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Contrary to what critics of the column wrote–that the faculty judges didn’t want the scoresheets shown to the Varsitarian since it would be better for the issue to die down– the faculty advisers and judges notified the student council to cooperate with this paper in reporting the matter. That order to do so was contained in the authorization letter signed by Prof. Consuelo Gotauco, adviser of the council; Prof. Florencio Ledesman, head of the Artlets Student’s Welfare and Development Board; and Prof. Ferdinand Lopez. The authorization was received by Hilario. ABSC president John Christian Valeroso had also promised to cooperate, but apparently didn’t order his vice-president to comply with the authorization.

In the wider world outside, organizers of a promotional contest where there’s a foul-up will have to explain to the Department of Trade and Industry and to the public. In the world outside, fair play, accountability and transparency are observed. Apparently some Artlets students would hardly fit in the world outside.

 

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One of the challenges facing Arts and Letters is the fall of six programs of the Faculty from Level I to candidacy status, based on findings of the Philippine Association of Colleges, Universities Commission on Accreditation (Pacucoa).

For AB to have maintained at least its old Level II accreditation, 75 per cent of the faculty must have graduate degrees. But Pacucoa does not consider lawyers and medical doctors in the Faculty as Master’s degree holders, despite the memorandum from the Commission on Higher Education saying that law and medical degrees are equivalent to graduate degrees. For one, AB has many lawyers in its Legal Management programs. Thus, the fall of the Faculty’s accreditation.

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As of academic year 2005-06, only 58 per cent of our faculty members have Master’s degrees and 18-per cent have doctorate degrees. College authorities said that the variety of programs and the intrinsic faculty needs of each program (Journalism needs practitioners, many of whom don’t have graduate degrees) may delay accrediation.

But even a graduate degree does not mean a professor is qualified or competent.

In the first day of class, a “professor” enters your classroom and requires each of you students to pay P300 for a set of photocopied course materials. You cannot refuse because she assigns each of you a selection from the course materials; each of you will report the selections during the entire course.

So what happens? The students do the teaching that the teacher is supposed to do.

So why are students charged tuition for a class where they do the teaching?

Just as worse, the students find out that the course materials were culled by the teacher’s class in the previous semester. They were downloaded from the Internet by the students in the former class and reproduced in clear violation of copyright rules.

Even worse, the teacher passes off the materials as her own.

She’s a teacher who doesn’t teach. A compiler of copywright-violated copies that she didn’t compile, she’s a plagiarist many times over. Then there’s the professor who always arrives an hour late for class and then right before the finals week, orders a make-up class.

Now we know why honesty is such a lonely word.

 

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Forty years back, the UST administration, despite protests, merged the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters (Philets) and the College of Liberal Arts into what we now know is the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

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Philets produced National Artists F. Sionil Jose, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Rolando Tinio, Ramon Magsaysay laureate Eugenia Apostol, and International Press Freedom awardee Jose Burgos Jr. Liberal Arts produced National Artist nominee Cirilo Bautista and the late theater icon Zeneida Amador.

Indologist Josephine Acosta-Pasricha, a Philets product and Artlets teacher, said that the expansion diluted the mission, vision and focus of Philets and Liberal Arts.

There were only two courses in Philets: Bachelor of Letters in Journalism and in Philosophy.

Pasricha said Philosophy majors, such as Tinio and UP vice-president Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo,took up writing and literature, and Journalism majors, such as Burgos and renowned film director Gil Portes, enrolled in Philosophy subjects.

“A Philets graduate would always be an excellent philosopher and writer, in the academe, journalism, and community service,” Pasricha said. “The multiple skills of the Philets student are lacking in today’s Artlets student.”

If there’s criticism in my columns, they should be considered not an affront but a challenge for everyone. We should be receptive of criticisms instead of condemning those who speak their mind in the quest for change and reforms.

Lemons, in case not everyone could understand, is an idiomatic expression denoting something that is faulty and malfunctioning. This is commonly used to describe defective second-hand cars in the United States.

When life throws you lemons, make lemonade.

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