The death of a bachelor degree

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On May 22, to the collective dismay of thousands of Filipino students, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Prospero de Vera III uttered what we all feared but were too scared to voice out: From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There’s no going back.

With CHED’s new policy on flexible learning in place, with their vision of indefinitely extending our home-based education from this day forward, the prospect of earning our college degree through the lens of our phones and computers (without really knowing our fields of expertise firsthand and in person) became too true for comfort. It seems that the mindsets we have built to fortify our motivations to continue our education needs some rethinking—no, this studying-from-home setup is no longer temporary. No, our battles with our internet connection will not soon come to an end. And no, we won’t graduate on a stage.

Our daydreams of walking through the campus grounds will remain as just that, and we hold neither voice nor choice to argue otherwise. A decision has been made for us, and the common interest we all share regarding this distanced learning has not been included in their deliberations. Instead of searching for ways to alleviate the causes that have led us here in the first place, and by doing so, ending the pandemic and the never-ending quarantines once and for all, our only option is to accept that this is the new normal. This shouldn’t be our normal.

We are victims of a system that has allowed this to happen—a government that reacted too slowly, that underestimated the dangers of the pandemic, that, until present, continues to leave its people to suffer the consequences of their ineptitude. Instead of immersing ourselves with the campus life that tertiary education promised us, a good four years of our life will be passed staring at the screens we are gradually learning to despise. And we do understand that there is little to be done about this predicament, especially by us. We know we are not in the position to brute force the resumption of face-to-face classes, because we know better than most to trust in the threats the virus poses. This is not a letter of complaint, but a reminder of our ability to demand for accountability.

And after barely experiencing the first four stages of grief as we mourn the death of the campus spirit, and the spirit of that once-inspired learner which lays dormant within us, we have no choice but to come into terms with our truth. We must accept that Google Meets will hold our sessions from here on out and that our photos on a television screen for our graduation will have to do, but we must not accept the fact of how all of this came to be. They did not give us the privilege of 1. denial, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression, because there is no time for any of that—the submission portal is open, and our assignments await.C

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