More than 300 students at Universidad de Las Americas – Puebla rallied Thursday to protest the cancellation of 571 scholarships.
Maria Lopez Aguilar, subdirector of communication at UDLA, said 571 scholarships had been canceled and said the university would review each case individually starting Monday in response to the demonstration.
TCU has a dual degree program with UDLA. William Slater, dean of the College of Communication, said earlier this month that the program is currently on hold.
Chancellor Victor Boschini said late Thursday he would not comment on the recent events until he had time to research the situation further.
According to local newspaper El Milenio, the university announced Sunday the “restructuring” of its scholarship program by suspending institutional scholarships.
The announcement sparked a protest that gathered about 200 students outside the UDLA rector’s office at 1 p.m. Thursday, said a freshman visual information design major who was at the protest but asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her scholarship.
The student said the protesters demanded to speak with the university’s interim leader, Arturo Langdon Lagarrigue. Langdon, who is the liaison between UDLA’s governing board – the Patronato – and the administration.
The university’s rector, Pedro Angel Palou, resigned in November and has not been replaced.
The student said Langdon did not come out to speak with the protesters, who then moved to the front gate of the university in hopes of getting the attention of local media that had gathered there.
About 300 protesters then headed to the water fountain at the center of the university sometime between 2 and 2:30 p.m., the student said.
“One of the leaders pointed out that this was a completely pacific movement, that there wasn’t going to be any violence, and that all they wanted was to clarify the scholarship issue,” she said.
The student said the protest leaders asked students to rally once again in front of the rector’s office at 4 p.m. She said she then left the university and doesn’t know what happened next.
“Many of my classmates were affected,” she said. “Many brilliant people lost their financial support in one day.”
Lopez said the protest was nonviolent and had dissolved by the time she left her office at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.