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#AcademicBreakNOWSLU: Louisian studs lament rising suicide cases, calls for academic ease

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: SLU Dasig

Students of Saint Louis University (SLU) in Baguio City and several student organizations hold a candle lighting protest on Saturday, October 30, to demand an academic break following the death of one student and other unverified cases due to heavy workloads. 

Amassed of 400 participants, the said protest at the university's main gate were enjoined by several sectoral groups and students from universities such as University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB)-Rise for Education, Kabataan Partylist Cordillera, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP)-Cordillera. 

Following the persistent clamor for an academic break of Louisian students on social media, #AcademicBreakNowSLU gained traction as it joined the list of twitter trends in the country with around 30,000 tweets as of writing. 
 
Meanwhile, Yanni Alla, representative of the Democratic Alliance of Students for Integrated Governance (DASIG) posited that the protest action is concerning the incidents of student suicide in the university and the rumored numbers that are yet to be verified.

“While the numbers are still jumbled, it is still important to remember that one death is already too many. You do not need more deaths to implement an academic break,” Alla said to the White & Blue, the official student publication of SLU. 

Joaquin Yabut, the secretary for public relations of the Kataas-taasang Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral/Supreme Student Council (KASAMA/SSC), said the student council is yet to receive a response from the university administration: “As of now, wala pa kaming nakuha. No response. No email."

Due to the lack of correspondence from the administration since the first week of October, the KASAMA/SSC has decided to meet with the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) on October 27.

It shared that academic break proposals were discussed with the VPAA and the final decision of the administration on the request will be on November 9.

Moreover, the SLU administration in a statement released early morning on Sunday, October 31, maintained that the University have "painstakingly ensured that the needs of the students are taken into account in the context of the challenges of flexible learning."

It further reiterated that it has always remained steadfast in supporting the non-academic needs of the students, such as mental health, welfare, and safety.

The SLU administration also clarified that prior to the protest, there had already been a dialogue with representatives of the SLU KASAMA/SSC, and it was agreed upon that a follow-up meeting will be conducted on November 9, 2021.

While it deeply values the sanctity of each and every life on the alleged cases of self-harm, SLU administration reminded the public that "caution is imperative in making and sharing unverified information pertaining to cases of this sensitive nature."

The administration also assured the student's requests will be "embraced with understanding and utmost compassion, as it navigates towards a resolution that is "fair, just, and humane."