UST science prof says he is facing non-renewal over rallies, conflict with fellow teachers

Asst. Prof. Vladimir Villegas joins a protest against the Office of Student Affairs’ (OSA) issuance of a show cause notice to Panday Sining UST chairperson Raven Racelis and the take down of TomasinoWeb’s 7-Eleven photo. Photo by Jessica Luna/ THE FLAME

A FACULTY member of the UST College of Science (CoS) claimed that his employment is at risk of not being renewed because of an ‘unsatisfactory’ rating that stemmed from his participation in protests staged by groups not recognized by the University.

Asst. Prof. Vladimir Villegas said he got an “unsatisfactory rating” in the evaluation by CoS Dean Prof. Rey Donne Papa because of his involvement in a press conference and a prayer rally about the controversies tied to the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) this year.

“According to the (UST and the UST Faculty Union) Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2016-2021, this shall be a reason for my non-renewal. So I have to appeal this and I sent a letter to our Dean and the Dean’s Council to review and re-evaluate my ratings,” he told The Flame.

Villegas joined the rally of student-activists and advocacy group Rise For Education-España on May 20 following the withdrawal of six UST Central Student Council candidates.

“[W]e prayed the rosary and prayed for enlightenment among our University officials regarding the TomasinoWeb issue and the issue of students’ rights and were peaceful gatherings inside the campus,” he said.

Last Feb. 21, the assistant professor also participated in a protest against OSA’s alleged threat to shut down campus media entity TomasinoWeb. The campus media entity had posted the controversial photo of information and computing sciences students entering a convenience store that some administrators claimed brought ridicule to UST.

“Peaceful rallies and assemblies, regardless of affiliation, are fundamental and constitutionally protected expressions of beliefs,” Villegas said.

Villegas’ supposed lack of professionalism and his conflict with fellow faculty members also contributed to the unsatisfactory rating. According to him, disagreements with Department of Chemistry Prof. Karen Santiago and Prof. Jolleen Natalie Balitaan had affected his evaluation.

The Flame reached out to Papa and the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs for comment but has yet to receive a response as of writing.

Student activists have accused UST administrators of implementing a “bureaucratic system” that repressed academic freedom and violated the independence of student-led societies and organizations.

Under the code of conduct of the UST student handbook, Thomasians are prohibited from joining groups not recognized by the University.

“Only duly recognized student organizations may organize and/or engage in any approved group activity. The organization should follow the University’s policies on Approval of Student Activities,” a provision of the code of conduct read. F – Cali Asajar with reports from Ma. Alyanna Selda

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