After just one year of the implementation of the Rationalized Classroom Utilization (RCU) program, the University had decided to revert to the old four-day class schedule. In light of the shift from the alternative scheduling scheme, the administration will instead employ a focus on risk reduction and management.
Dr. Corazon C. Subido, Director for the Risk Management, Compliance and Audit Office (RMCA) explains that her office has been more than active in moving towards a University-wide risk management structure.
“The University always considers the safety and convenience of students in its decisions. There are several committees and protocols already in place to address issues on risk and disaster management,” she assures.
Subido mentions the Safety Committee, spearheaded byJosemari Calleja, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services, which started to focus on Disaster Management along with the RMCA this year.
Among those other units she cites are the Security and Safety Office, the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO), and Laboratory Safety led by the College of Science.
“In cases of emergency, there exist guidelines on overnight shelter at the University during inclement weather and other hazardous conditions with expressed provisions for a hierarchy of authority for decisions, transportation, assembly areas, food and sources of funds.”
Managing student density
The RCU aimed for an effective and even distribution of students throughout the six days of classes, with the University break falling on a Wednesday. Incoming freshmen during that academic year were compelled to take a six-day class schedule, while upper batches had the discretion choosing their days of classes per week. The implementation of the program had raised concerns from stakeholders such as students, parents and faculty members.
According to a study done by the Physical Facilities Office (PFO), there has been a significant decrease in classroom utilization when the RCU was dropped. From 92.81 percent, the figure went down to 77.88 percent. However, the reduction of the total population density didn’t go hand in hand with the decrease.
A survey conducted by the University Student Government (USG) with 800 correspondents revealed that 65 percent of the students were against the RCU. 87 percent expressed their inconvenience with the six-day class week.
Pat Acido (AB-PSN, IV) shares that the alternative schedule did not have much difference with the four-day class scheme in terms of the availability of facilities in the school. “The Cybernook is always crowded no matter what,” she says.
Nadine Bernardino (AB-OCM, II) believes that it’s not just the number of the freshmen enrolled for the term which caused the campus to be more congested. “Maybe the number of students who stayed [or got delayed] makes it overpopulated,” she claims.
In addition, she says that the long hours of break time of students, which compel them to loiter around the University, contribute to the congestion.
President and Chancellor Br. Jun Erguiza, FSC, asked the administration to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the RCU scheme during the second term of last year.
Through surveys, research, and studies, the RCU Team was able to conclude that the four-day class week was for the benefit of all the stakeholders involved. The evaluation was presented on March.
The team, headed by the newly-appointed Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) Dean, Dr. Rosemary Seva, includes faculty members Bryan Gobaco, Alma Gutierrez, Angeline Gan, Ailea Go, Miguel Maceda, and Kyle Sy.
According to the evaluation, the RCU scheme was able to manage the schedule of freshmen well, giving them ample break time and allowing them to go home by 4:20pm. However, the RCU didn’t effectively reduce student congestion. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 85% of the student population still filled the halls.
Dr. Seva, along with her team, proposed some alternative scheduling systems based on the surveys they conducted. One of the proposals was the Low Density Alternative (LDA), which was projected to significantly reduce student density by assigning different University breaks on weekdays to various block sections. However, the plan was met with doubt and opposition, and its implementation did not push through.
Solutions to the problem
The transfer of some colleges to the De La Salle Science and Technology Center (DLS-STC) is widely seen as the long-term solution to campus congestion in DLSU.
Aside from this, the opening of the Henry Sy Sr., Hall is also expected to mitigate the problem since additional facilities will be provided once construction is completed.
“Congestion is subjective and immeasurable. How can you say that a campus is congested? There’s no formal measure for it. Depende ‘yan eh. Maybe you say that the school is congested right now dahil feel niyo congested kayo. Maybe it’s because of the construction of the Centennial Building, kaya sabi niyo congested kayo. Our concern right now is the safety of the students, rather than the congestion problem,” Dr. Seva clarifies.