Deblocking at the UP College of Law

Law students prepare for class while waiting for the professor to arrive.
The UP College of Law is set to implement a new registration system this coming June.***
Before, students at the UP College of Law are grouped into “blocks,” and assigned subjects and teachers according to the curriculum and the schedule of professors. Day students are assigned into blocks A, B, C, and D; evening students go to block E.

The students cannot choose which teachers and subjects to take, unless they fail a subject or go on leave, in which case they become “international students” or those who do not follow the regular curriculum.

But this, according to Dean Marvic Leonen, actually rewards those who fail their subjects by allowing them to choose their teachers and subjects. He wants to turn the system on its head, rewarding those who follow the regular curriculum instead of those who do not.

Under the new system, regular students get first priority on the subjects in their curriculum. Second year students, for example, get first priority compared to third year or fourth year students who are taking up subjects meant for second year students.

Say, Ms. 2nd year is taking up Property, which under the curriculum should be taken up during the first semester of the second year. She will be prioritized over Ms. 3rd year, who either failed to take up Property during her second year or failed it. Ms. 3rd year will be able to enroll for a Property class when all the regular second year students who are supposed to take it have been enrolled.

Each student also gets points, which he/she can use to choose – or bid for – a particular subject.
Each subject is given a certain value — say 20 points — and students are given a certain number of points depending on the number of subjects they’re supposed to have under the curriculum.

Back to Ms. 2nd year: she has 6 subjects, so she’ll get 120 points. She can use those 120 points to “bid” for a certain Property class: say the one at 10:30 a.m., because she’s most alert during daytime and 10:30 a.m. is the earliest available class there is. If she uses all her 120 points, she’s certain to get that class, because everybody else will be bidding too and she’ll probably outbid them all. That means, however, that she’ll be left with nothing more to bid for her other classes.

Does this mean she won’t get enrolled in the other subjects?

Of course not. It only means that she cannot choose which section to enroll in. But she’ll still be enrolled in the other subjects she’s supposed to take under the curriculum: Sales, Torts and Damages, Crim. Procedure, Labor & Social Legis.1, and Insurance.

Now, say that Ms. 3rd year also wants to take up Insurance and is using her 120 points to bid for the Insurance subject. Even though she has 120 points and Ms. 2nd year has nothing left to bid for a class, Ms. 2nd year will be prioritized over Ms. 3rd year, because she’s following the regular curriculum, which says she should take up Insurance during the first semester of the second year. Ms. 3rd year will have to wait in line, because she is not following the curriculum.

What about evening students? Usually, there is only one section offered per subject for evening students. Evening students get priority for evening classes. In cases where they don’t have a choice since only one section is available for evening students, they don’t have to bid: they just have to register and they will be enrolled for that class.

In a meeting with students last month, Dean Leonen explained the reasons behind the new system:

1. Students get to choose their subjects based on time schedules and professors. The premise is that the students are mature individuals and will choose their sections based on what will help them pass the bar and become good lawyers.
2. Students learn more from mentors that they choose, based on time (larks can choose morning subjects, owls can choose those scheduled later in the day), professors and subject.
3. It changes hierarchical structures in the class. There are hierarchies established in class: the class genius, goat, etc. and many of these are set early on. It is usually hard to break out of these hierarchical relationships and patterns.
“By the time you’re second year, you’re made – genius, goat, delinquent, etc. The identities are reproduced (through the years). By removing the block system students are able to enter into new communities; we do not want a set stratification to happen; we want to give you all a chance to reshuffle yourselves in different environments.”
4. A student’s network expands: the batch network, and the UP College of Law network.

INCIDENTALLY, students vote with their feet. It can show to the faculty not only who is popular, but who is teaching the right way. This, however, is only an incidental effect and is not reason for the new registration system.

  • **my understanding of the new registration system after a discussion between UP law students and dean Marvic Leonen.

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