The teaching, non-teaching and student sectors of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) announced today that this Friday, June 11, they will march in front of the Capitol to defend the country’s university system and against budget cuts for the next fiscal year.
Likewise, in the demonstration called for 3:00 in the afternoon, they will demand that the budget of 9.6% of government revenues be restored and that the governor Pedro Pierluisi declare the UPR as an essential service.
“We call on all the people in general to march in defense of the University of Puerto Rico, the people’s university. We understand that the UPR is not an expense, it is an investment ”, said the president of the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU), Angel Rodriguez Rivera, in written statements to the press.
Likewise, the union leader highlighted that he denounced the approval of a budget of $ 407 million that would cause some units of the system to be “inoperative”.
“According to Law 2, which guarantees the budget of the University to 9.6% of government revenues, the annual budget of the UPR before the Fiscal Control Board (JCF) was $ 833.9 million. Under the plan approved by the JCF, we would have a budget of $ 407 million this year. This is less than half of the budget that we are entitled to by law. This latest cut of $ 94 million is unsustainable and many campuses are in danger of being inoperative as educational institutions in Puerto Rico. That is why they are demanding the approval of Senate Bill 172 for a new university law. This project would eliminate the abuse that the JCF has with the university by returning to the budget formula, ”explained Rodríguez Rivera.
For her part, the president of the Brotherhood of Exempt Non-Teaching Employees (Heend), Janell santana, criticized that, while the fiscal plan approved by the federal entity imposed by Congress cuts $ 94 million to the UPR, the document prepared by the Governing Board of the university institution “asks for the 94 million, but restricts it to a special fund, leaving the same net result for the venues ”.
“Pierluisi believes he has solved it all by taking out special funds that are like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound because they do not protect the budget and the net result for the campuses is the same. The cuts continue to contribute to deteriorating working conditions for university employees. The budgetary situation of the UPR has caused fundamental elements in our collective agreement such as the medical plan, maternity rights, exemptions from tuition for the children of employees and our retirement system to be disrupted. This mistreatment of workers is unacceptable. They destroy the town’s university right under our noses. We cannot and will not allow that, ”said Santana.
The group also noted that the approved fiscal plan contains another “increase in the cost of credit.”
“This fiscal plan continues to put the student sectors in greater economic precariousness. It prevents us from having access to the best educational center in the country and is attentive to our right to education. While the rest of the world, including the United States, seeks to lower the cost of university studies, here, the JCF continues to bleed our pockets. In addition to the increase in the cost of study, the new cut reduces the number of teachers and, consequently, the number of sections. The university loses the ability to provide us with the academic mechanisms to be able to graduate at the desired time. If we don’t have classes, we keep falling behind. The budget cuts are what really undermine the accreditation of the university, as we saw with the Neurosurgery program. We need a healthy budget and better governance, as stated by P. del S. 172, which we fully support ”, said the student representative. Juan Jose De Jesus, President of the General Council of Students of the Medical Sciences Campus.