by Diego Mina (Class 2021)
Medicine Student Council along with some OFS representatives in the UPCM General Assembly
The UPCM General Assembly was conducted on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at the Buenafe Hall. Important issues relating to the college and the student body were discussed, and an open forum with representatives from the UPCM administration was done.
The first agenda discussed was the medical arts building. MSC Chair Leandro Salazar gave a brief rundown of the details of the building. He relayed an update from the admin about the demolitions, which were said to have no definite date yet, while the construction may begin before the demolitions.
The next topic was safety concerns. This was especially heightened after some tweets revealed threats against an unidentified student of UPCM. Currently the admin, as well as the UP Manila police, are on watch. The MSC has disseminated some hotlines that students could contact in case of safety concerns.
On the cash grant for med students, it was clarified that UPCM students who avail of it would not have to render additional return service on top of the present RSOP. The memorandum has already been signed, giving assurance of funding. The deadline of tuition payment was extended to December 14, 2018.
For the MSC Projector, the projector has already been purchased. The MSC will have finalized the guidelines for use by December 3, 2018. There will be a rental for the maintenance of the projector.
The next point of discussion was the preparations for the lantern parade.
Next was World AIDS Day. The MSC, as well as MSSR-IPPNW, OTN, and Phi Lambda Delta organized the week-long commemoration of AIDS, with the tagline “Know Your Status”. It will feature, from December 4 to 7, 2018, an exhibit, a film showing, and a forum, culminating in free HIV testing on December 7 from 1:00pm to 7:00pm.
With the arrival of Dr. Abner Chan and Dr. Anthony Cordero, representatives of the UPCM administration, the open forum began. MSC Chair Salazar opened the first few questions, along with some grievances aired online by students.
The first issue brought up was the cash grant. Dr. Cordero affirmed that he and Dr. Chan asserted that there be no additional return service for UPCM, and clarified that while the memoranda assuring the provision of the cash grant are signed, the DBM is just asking some requirements from UPCM, after which there will be a new update.
Next issue brought up was space issues. An anonymous person asked about the current measures the administration is undertaking to alleviate the space problem. Dr. Chan answered that “We are able to make do only with what we have and are given.” He discussed the improvements made to the surroundings, and some palliating measures such as offering the MSU to board examinees, as well as some proposals that were deferred for safety reasons.
Dr. Chan also mentioned the UP Medics article which discussed the issues of space. He assured the students that the administration is doing everything they can, and that “we will have to go through hardships to achieve something better”, citing the example of the central block going from dilapidated, to under renovation, to a better state. “These are temporary discomforts, but the fruits of our labor will manifest later on,” said Dr. Chan.
A student in attendance opened the question of having concessionaires in Calderon Hall, citing the difficulty of going farther for food. Dr. Chan admitted that they had not talked about concessionaires, although there were some scrapped proposals for concessionaires in the first floor of the SWC. He also admitted that they are wary about outside food because of the recent food poisoning incident.
MSC Secretary General Mayo Viray then asked if the new building would have space for a cafeteria. Dr. Chan clarified that all of the plans for that are still open to change. Some discussion and clarification of what was said by Dr. Padilla revealed that there is just an open space in the new dormitory.
From a concerned student who communicated online, Salazar relayed concerns about the social media guidelines, and he clarified that currently, its status is simply that of a guideline, not of a policy with sanctions. As of the time of writing, Dean Charlotte Chiong is reviewing the matter.
Salazar also gave updates on the graduation ceremony; the majority of the classes voted for a combined medicine and internship graduation ceremony. There were no updates yet on the white coat ceremony.
A student online asked about the concrete projects of the administration for mental health.
Dr. Chan replied that there is a new office for student resiliency under Dr. Sablan, who is currently in charge of mental health issues in UPCM. He mentioned that the college is planning to have an in-house psychiatrist with a preliminary schedule of once a week, half-day. He gave an assurance that their offices are still open and welcome to any student needing help, and emphasized the UPM hotlines that were disseminated.
An anonymous student raised the question of inappropriately worded examination questions, most infamously the “All of the following except” format. Salazar recounted an anecdote of a professor in the College of Public Health who took an NTTC course and was taught the proper way of asking questions.
Dr. Chan reaffirmed that such questions were inappropriate, and asserted that professors are required to go through medical education units. He inferred that the professors simply need to be reminded since “it is hard to break bad habits”.
Dr. Cordero detailed the series of workshops they are required as professors to go through, and also inferred that inappropriately worded questions still come through because of lack of regulation at the department level.
Salazar then relayed a related concern, regarding some departments and professors not giving feedback after exams.
Dr. Chan assured the students that departments are aware of their obligation to provide feedback after exams. He added that although some may defer the feedbacks due to heavy schedules, it is still the students’ right to have the feedback since it is an important learning process. Dr. Cordero added that withholding feedback is a reportable offense.
Another student relayed a concern online about the steps being taken to address the less than 100% passing rate in the PLE. Dr. Chan said that they are currently trying to get in touch with those who did not pass. They emphasized that the comprehensive exam at the end of each year level is the closest semblance to a board review that UPCM has, but they would still be discussing possible solutions with Dr. Dimacali.
Viray relayed a concern about room reservation fees, especially since the OFS need rooms and the rental fees are high.
Dr. Chan clarified that it is not the UPCM Administration that sets the rates, but the CPDMO. Giving the example of Buenafe Hall rental being Php 8000 per hour, he said that while they want to waive the fees or give big discounts for students, he said that such practices are questioned in the auditing. They would be talking with the CPDMO to revise the fees. He added that government employees do not have overtime, so activities outside office hours would reduce the number of hours they could work in office hours. Thus, they implore the organizations that reserve venues to give compensation for the overtime so as not to reduce the workforce for regular days.
Viray then relayed the concern about the student who was told by a patient, “Bakit ikaw ang tumitingin sa akin eh di ka pa naman doktor?”. The student who forwarded this concern asked about where students could go to help if they feel threatened or disrespected.
Dr. Chan replied that medical students would be meeting people from all walks of life, and thus are expected to act properly, but if medical students feel aggravated, he encourages them to talk with the resident or explain. He believes that everything can be solved with proper communication, and implored medical students to be more understanding of the patients of PGH, who often come from less privileged backgrounds. He also added that students are generally not alone, but once graduated, will often be the only doctor in a locality, and he expressed his hope that the experiences in PGH would prepare medical students for the real world.
Dr. Cordero added that sexual harassment cannot be tolerated, and cited the UP Anti Sexual Harassment Code. He commended its feature of including the patient-care provider relationship. He recounted that back in Cavite, whenever a patient is rude, they simply would report to the midwife or nurse, who would then be the one to deal with the patient. In application to the situation in PGH, he said that medical students can report to the resident.
A student in attendance returned to the topic of feedback. While they felt that the loss of feedback robbed them of a learning opportunity, many professors did not understand. They asked if the feedback session could be institutionalized into the schedule to keep it constant. Dr. Chan replied that students can bring it up to the committees, and the administration would remind professors of the importance of feedback in the learning process.
The last question relayed by Salazar, was about the expectations of the administration from the students during this period of construction. Dr. Chan expressed hope that students would be tolerant and understanding of the situation, and assurance that things will become better and the fruits of the hardships would manifest in a few years. He also added that they are affected by the situation but their hands are tied.
Dr. JJ Cruz then discussed the updates on the infrastructure in UP Manila. He gave a brief rundown of the details of the site development plan of the Medical Arts Building. Notably, the plan includes demolishment of the library and part of the wall of PGH, along with the tambayans, the PGH court, and the interns dorm. The building is planned to be 11 stories high, along with a 12-storey library and a new dormitory for UP-PGH employees. Currently, BOR approval has been obtained, and they are waiting for the issuance of the construction permit and the finalization of the agreement between UPMAF and DMCI. They decided on a private source of funds in order to have more freedom to choose the contractor, as if it were under government there would be a bidding process. The target date of construction is moved to January 2019, with an estimated construction time of 12 to 18 months.
Dr. Cruz requested the organizations to give an audit of their history and membership, since there is a floor planned to be dedicated to the students. He still asserted that the plans are still fluid, and open to change or further suggestions.
An anonymous online student relayed a concern about the undesirable smell in CH 222. Dr. Cruz gave an assurance that they will check into that issue, and asked for understanding from the students since Calderon Hall is more than 100 years old.
Another concern raised online was the alleged crackdown on cats by the last administration. The asker inquired about the plans of the current administration for the cats.
Dr. Cruz clarified that the “feline problem” is more a concern for PGH than UPCM, but due to proximity, any cats in UPCM can easily cross over to PGH. He then stated that they are asking the help of the city pound in spaying and neutering, and that they come to catch the cats only once or twice a year.
A student in attendance relayed that someone visited the city pound and witnessed mistreatment and killing of cats. He suggested going to animal welfare organizations instead of the pound.
Dr. Cruz expressed that they would welcome any help in connecting to an animal welfare organization. He asserted that a director of any hospital would be worried about stray cats, and that “the stray cat population must be controlled”. He claimed that the problem is being aggravated by people feeding the cats.
Another student in attendance asked about assurance from the administration of support in finding new temporary spaces when the original tambayans are demolished.
Dr. Cruz affirmed this, but he said that there is no concrete expansion on the answer, so they are trying to refrain from demolishment. He added that help would also be welcome in searching for spaces, and that an open space is a legal requirement for an evacuation place in cases of emergency.
The semi-finals men’s basketball game between UP and Adamson in the UAAP was brought up, and Dr. Cruz mentioned that there would be a livestream in Buenafe Hall. Classes were excused, but not necessarily suspended. However, hospital and community work could not be suspended. (As of the time of writing, classes were eventually suspended, and hospital and community work proceeded as is. UP won against Adamson, securing a spot in the finals.)
Dr. Cruz announced that the kick-off for UP Manila’s Christmas celebrations is on December 8, 2018, where UPCM would be spearheading the lighting of the Christmas tree at 6pm. He also mentioned a mass at 5pm.
The next agenda of the general assembly, as presided by Vice Chair Danee Mangila, was the UPMAS Celebrations. The Class of 1993 would be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, with the hashtag #UwiNaPo, having their celebration from December 14 to December 20. Mangila relayed that 30 student volunteers are needed to usher, guide, and interact with the celebrants in the homecoming parade on December 19. This being at least 2 from each OFS and class.
The next point on the agenda was the MSC Constitution amendments, which are to be ratified by the students in the second semester enrollment.
The next points of the agenda were the MSC grievance form, discussed by the STRAWBS Head, and the reservations for the MSU, locker room, and equipment, discussed by the Environment and Campus Management Head.
The MSC has created an online form for submission of grievances, which they would be discussing and if necessary would convene a council meeting. Some other avenues for airing grievances/concerns were also mentioned, such as the Facebook page, the hotline, Mondays at MSU/MSC Office (5:30pm to 6:30pm).
There are also online forms for the reservation of the MSU second floor. It was clarified that all reservations would need the approval of the MSC Chair, especially by non-UPCM organizations. The ECM Head also mentioned the online form for reservation of lockers and borrowing of equipment, and requested everyone to keep the MSU clean, as the responsibility for the MSU is on the students.
The last point of the agenda was the accomplishments and plans of the current MSC, after which the GA was concluded.
The live video of the assembly can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/upmedics/videos/372190483356802/