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Guevarra: Academic freedom includes right to admit, exclude students

ACADEMIC institutions have the right to determine “whom to admit and whom to exclude,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said.

Guevarra issued the statement when asked to comment on the decision of the University of Santo Tomas to dismiss from school a Grade 12 student for joining Anakbayan-UST, and for his social media posts calling for academic break.

Academic freedom includes the right of an academic institution to determine whom to admit and whom to exclude based on clear academic standards and norms of student conduct. Like any other rights, however, academic freedom should be exercised with utmost circumspection, fairness, and respect for the rights of others,” Guevarra said.

When asked if dismissed UST pupil Datu Ampatuan Jr. should have undergone school hearings before his dismissal, Guevarra said:” There are many ways of observing due process; conducting a hearing, issuing a show-cause order or a notice to explain, etc.

But if the facts are undisputed, the school may proceed as it deems appropriate and reasonable under the given circumstances,” he said.

Ampatuan Jr. was dismissed from UST for allegedly violating the school’s code of conduct.

He was also removed from his post as head councilor of UST Senior High School Student Council.

UST said Ampatuan violated the school’s code of conduct, which only allowed students to join organizations “whose objectives uphold the mission and vision of the university” and “are duly recognized by the university.