Today is an historic day for the University of the Philippines as the last constituent university that has not elected to a shift in the start of the academic year from June to August has finally decided for the shift. UP Diliman was the last among the constituent universities that include UP Los Banos, UP Manila, UP Visayas, UP Mindanao, UP Baguio and UP Open University to decide on this matter. Earlier, in December 2013, Diliman's University Council voted against the shift in a meeting where many had already left due allegedly to the very lengthy discussions that I'm sure were not without the typical theatrics and vigorous arguments from those who seem to enjoy these kinds of discussions. They did, however, decide to have the matter studied and for members of the council to be better informed about the matter.
And so a forum was held last February and a referendum followed it after a decision by the UP Diliman Executive Council to have the referendum for University Council members and a survey for non-members (instructors). That referendum's outcomes showed that most were for a shift in the calendar, whether in 2014 or in 2015. Most of those who were for the shift wanted this to be implemented this coming academic year, which was supposed to start in June.
Of the 456 recorded in attendance for when the votes were finally cast, 284 voted for shifting the academic calendar for a start in August 2014. 164 voted against while 8 abstained. There were actually two motions on the floor this morning. The approval of the first one reaffirmed the powers of the University Council regarding matters of academic concern and treated the referendum as an opinion poll with the results inputs for the decision-making of the council. The second motion was regarding the shift itself and several arguments for and against were allowed so that there could be a fair discussion of the pros and cons of the shift. I believe the new Chancellor of UP Diliman did a great job presiding over the meeting and was able to "manage" the discussions so that most people remained until the end of meeting to cast his/her vote on the matter.
And so the university should now move on and prepare for the next school year. No one said it will be easy and in fact, there is sure to be an adjustment period for many. Nevertheless, we should now work towards making this shift as smooth as possible.