More than 500 scholarships canceled by the administration at Mexican sister school Universidad de Las Americas-Puebla are being reinstated, ending three days of student protests, a student representative at UDLA said.
Susana Riestra, a fourth-year international relations major and member of the UDLA student council, said UDLA interim leader Arturo Langdon signed a document Monday restoring 571 scholarships following a two-hour negotiation meeting with a group of three UDLA student council members, two student protesters and two parents.
Maria Lopez Aguilar, subdirector of communication at UDLA and university spokeswoman, did not return phone calls seeking comment about the agreement.
Riestra, who was present at the meeting, said Langdon also confirmed in the letter that no academic programs will close at the university, relieving those students who thought they wouldn’t be able to complete a degree in their major. The UDLA administration announced last week that it was going to review its scholarship program by suspending 571 need-based scholarships.
Students affected by the suspension have either a departmental scholarship or a “fraternitas” scholarship. According to the university’s Web site, “fraternitas” scholarships are awarded to incoming students, and departmental scholarships are awarded to current students. Departmental scholarships require students to work on scholarly projects at any of the university’s academic departments.
Video: Students protest loss of scholarships at UDLA
Yunuen Castellanos, a fifth-year international relations major who was also at the meeting, said departmental scholarships will be reviewed because some students are assigned office tasks instead of working on an academic project. She said students with departmental scholarships whose job is not appropriate for the department will receive another scholarship that will cover the same percentage of expenses as their previous one.
“People are more at ease,” Castellanos said. “We feel it was an important achievement, but we cannot say the university is doing really well.”
According to Castellanos, Langdon said he expected the university to have a new rector in about four months. Former rector Pedro Angel Palou resigned in November.
Riestra said student protesters rallied at the university’s front gate at 8 a.m. Monday. She said about 200 protesters gathered outside the rector’s office while 100 protesters remained at the gate. Langdon met with students at noon, and the results of the negotiation were announced two hours later at a rally by the water fountain at the center of the university, she said.
“For now the demonstration has ended,” Riestra said. “But there are still many things to solve and many things to improve.”