University Professors Association: Fall semester to begin with stoppage
By John McPhaul
The Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU) by its Spanish acronym) announced Monday that the upcoming academic semester will begin with an academic stoppage and a national dialogue from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21 at the University of Puerto Rico.
“On August 19, 20 and 21, the University of Puerto Rico will not have classes,” APPU President Ángel Rodríguez said. “As teachers, we are going to paralyze our normal work as an exercise in protest against the administrative setback that continues to undermine our working conditions as teachers.”
The APPU leader said that during the stoppage, courses and virtual meetings with the student body will be focused on promoting a dialogue at UPR which will serve as a forum to identify the effect of the administrative policies that keep the university in constant crisis, and identify the responses and proposals of the university community.
Rodríguez noted that the strike begins on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. with a face-to-face mobilization activity in front of the Plaza Universitaria building. After that a series of virtual forums will take place that will be broadcast through different platforms.
“We invite all the professors of the UPR to come to the Plaza Universitaria building on Wednesday, August 19 at 9 a.m. to let the university administration know that we demand respect,” Rodríguez said.” We want all the people of Puerto Rico to know that the faculty of the University of Puerto Rico continues to defend the best interests of UPR. In the face of the abuses and the attempt to dismantle the university, we are not going to remain silent.”
The union leader added that the past five months have been very difficult times for Puerto Rico and for the University of Puerto Rico.
“The [coronavirus] pandemic has put all university students in a situation of great concern,” Rodríguez said. “We have had to work remotely without having the best resources. Our attention, like that of the rest of Puerto Rico, has been on how we are going to get out of the public health crisis.”
“In the midst of this pandemic, Mr. Walter Alomar and Ms. Zoraida Buxó [UPR governing board chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively], what they have done is attack the best interests of university students,” he said. “They took advantage of the pandemic to try to modify our retirement system. They did not have the decency to wait for us to come out of this crisis to bring to the public arena the attempt to damage our retirement system. To that, we add their attempt to increase the cost of tuition and the imposition of a fee at the laboratory schools. This callousness on the part of Alomar and Buxó leads us to demand their removal from the governing board. This decreed stoppage requires their exit immediately. These people are not university students, nor do they have the best interest of the university at heart. They have to go now.”
On top of all this, with another semester of distance education about to begin, the administration is imposing a migration of emails to a new platform, Rodríguez said.
“The university administration continues to make our work life increasingly difficult. This migration process, at a million-dollar cost for the university, has limited our ability to communicate with our students at the time when we need more stability,” the APPU president said. “Starting a semester this way is utter nonsense on the part of the administration. This attack is another reason for the stoppage of teaching work. Somehow the university administration has to understand that it cannot continue making unilateral decisions that affect all university students.”