#MassPromotionNow has been students’ rallying cry on Twitter lately. Due to academic institutions relying on online classes, students are having a difficult time adjusting to the new normal, especially students without internet access readily available to them.
Some students go to Twitter to voice out their concerns. But four students from Bicol University took on an unusual protest instead.
On Apr. 27, Bicol University’s official website got hacked. All of this trouble in the name of voicing out why online classes would not benefit the entire student body.
“Bicol University, the strategies you have presented only favors the privileged. Not all are privileged”
“The homepage of the official website of Bicol University, www.bicol-u.edu.ph, has been hacked by an anonymous group, in relation to AO NO. 91, series of 2020,” writes The Bicol Universitarian. “The guidelines released on April 26 [states that] classes will resume on May 2 via remote teaching and learning or distance education strategies as the semester will end on May 20, 2020.”
— Irish Barrion (@irishbtorres) April 27, 2020
AO NO. 91 didn’t sit well with a lot of students. As for the hackers, they referred to this as: “The most notorious act ever witnessed in the history of the excellence of Bicol University.”
These anonymous hackers didn’t take over the website just for kicks. In the now offline website, they wrote their concerns regarding online classes. “Bicol University, the strategies you have presented only favors the privileged. Not all are privileged,” writes the hackers. “We ask for a revision of the said admin order for the betterment of BUeños.”
Hackers under the usernames h1j4ck3r, blis5ful, d00mbring3r and estrang-the-hero ended their collective statement with the following hashtags: #EndTheSemester, #MassPromotion and #NoOneGetsLeftBehind. If BUeños can recall, this isn’t the first time these hackers took over their school’s website. They were also behind an infamous hacking incident last 2016, in which they protested against a controversial statement made by their student council.
Since they hacked the website, the screenshot became viral overnight. Bicol University student leader Irish Mae Barrion Torres posted the screenshot with the caption: “Ito na ata ang pinakamalalang protest against online classes.”
Although Torres does not condone hacking (since it is illegal), she sees this act as a radical form of resistance. “The point of the hackers is to probably catch the attention of the BU admin. This means that there is an urgency and necessity to respond to the concerns of the students.”
“The reason why lots of students oppose online classes is because it is anti-poor and there is little to no consideration to the students at all,” says Torres. “Giving passing grades to all students and ending the semester are the most humane decisions in the middle of this crisis. You can’t expect the students to return to school as if nothing happened. Malaking dagok ito sa estudyante at sa pamilya nila—financially and mentally.”
“This is not just about us. It is also about the other students who are less fortunate. We’re speaking for the marginalized and oppressed.”
In regards to students like her, she wants to remind everyone why making your concerns heard is important during this pandemic period.
“Online classes will not work in Bicol University considering that this is a state university and the majority of the students came from poor families. Since it is a state university, it must always serve its people,” explains Torres. “This is not just about us. It is also about the other students who are less fortunate. We’re speaking for the marginalized and oppressed.”
Academic institutions have been relying on the internet to save the school year. But as our intern Ralph Regis wrote, while online classes are in session, it is not for everyone. Institutions need to think about humane ways to guide students during the pandemic.
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Art by Zaila Mae Urmeneta