December 10, 2022

Rennier Cuevas, a recent computer science graduate of De La Salle Lipa (DLSL), was unable to receive the distinction of cum laude after falling short on his Physical Activities Towards Health and Fitness (Pathfi) grade, despite being diagnosed with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) which has confined him to a wheelchair his whole life.

In his first year of college, Cuevas said that he was to be assigned documentation-related tasks to comply with Pathfi requirements. His instructor for Pathfi1 at the time, told him to wait for further instructions, yet by the end of the semester, Cuevas was not given an alternative assessment. 

AMC is the development of multiple joint contractures or the permanent tightening of the muscles, tendons, skin, and nearby tissue prior to birth, causing them to be stiff and limiting their movement. The condition can differ from person to person and in Cuevas’s case, it affects his arms, legs, and waist.

Rennier Cuevas assisted by an usherette during the graduation march.
(Screenshot from DLSL College Graduation live stream)

As a result of not being provided an alternative assessment, he received a Pathfi grade of 2.75, which failed to meet the 3.00-grade requirement on all courses that DLSL graduates need to maintain until their senior year to be eligible for cum laude distinction. 

In an earlier interview with Lavoxa, Cuevas said that he raised this concern during the semestral break of his first year by heading to the Pathfi department’s office, but the department head was not present. He also notified his instructor about his grade who said that he was not aware Cuevas was in the running for a Latin honor. 

After not taking action in his second and third years in college, Cuevas recently raised this issue through a written case report last June 17, with the help of the Student Government (SG), where he mentioned that improvements must be made in the curriculum concerning students with disabilities.

 “There must be well-defined plans on how they can participate in physical education classes. It is a matter of inclusivity as no one must not feel lost waiting for instructions on a course that should understand one’s limitations,” Cuevas said in the case report.

Although he secured a meeting with the institution, his request was still denied as they cited in the Student Handbook that a student should submit a formal written petition prior to the end of the semester when he took the course and Cuevas was unable to do so.

Cuevas mentioned that he also asked if the incident could be revisited to at least identify the misunderstanding but this request was also denied as it would be the same measure as reconsidering his grade. 

 “Doon lang ako medyo na-disappoint kasi [if] hindi man nila gawin yun para mabago grade ko, at least marecognize nila na may lapse na nangyari para hindi na mangyari sa future,” Cuevas said.

Despite the results of his efforts, Cuevas said that his disappointment also came with acceptance as his only option now is to move on from the incident and focus on the next stage of his life as a fresh graduate. 

Rennier Cuevas alongside his friends and family. (Photo from Rennier Cuevas)

“Focus na lang sa magiging career ganun. Ayun parang, fulfillment kasi [‘yung petition] din ‘yung gustong ilaban ng late father ko and nagawa ko siya kahit 4th year na,” said Cuevas. 

As of press time, his instructor and school officials have not yet responded to Lavoxa’s request for an interview concerning Cuevas’s petition.

Cuevas received his diploma and graduated with academic distinction during DLSL’s 34th Commencement Exercise held last Aug. 31. 

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