The recent shooting incidents in the US sparked a worldwide issue on the safety of academic institutions. In a similar manner, changes in the environment around Taft have raised concern over the security and protection of an average Lasallian.
Situations concerning safety within the University mostly involve incidents of theft.
Student Guinevere Ong (II, CAM-ADV) shares, “A block mate of mine got into a theft situation, and she later found out that a string of those had happened in the same term almost a week apart. Things like that are rampant at the Agno area.”
Pooja Murjani (I, BS-LGL), after hearing of such news, is careful about walking around isolated places at night and even in broad daylight. She supposes, however, that the incidence is low within the University as she is not aware of the existence of fraternities, which according to her usually cause violence in academic institutions.
Carrie Dizon (II, ECO-MKT), however, believes that small ripples could trigger graver situations such as bullying, which she believes would likely cause violence.
Director of the Student Discipline and Formation Office (SDFO) Christy Santiago argues though, “Most of the provisions under major offenses, such as [starting] brawls or bringing deadly weapons are all preventive measures implemented by our office to promote vigilance and peace among the Lasallian community.”
Many Lasallians have been used to practice caution as soon as they step out of the campus. Bags are clutched tight and valuables are concealed—habits which have resulted from the talks, whether of true incidents or urban legends, that float through the campus in the interest of personal safety. Money for enrollment snatched from bags, hold ups in the FX or bus ride home, a Pedi cab driver seen gripping an ice pick—these are the stories Lasallians are familiar with, and do not want to take for granted.
Drug trades have also become an along Castro St., Taft Avenue, near One Archer’s Place. Cel, an employee in Carpenter’s, a computer shop in the area says that in her 2-year stay, the police have had at least 10 drug-related raids in the area.
Director of the Security and Safety Office (SSO) Dionisio Escarez, says that his office is aware of the drug trade in that area. He clarifies, however, “But so far, we haven’t caught students involved in drug-related activities (in Castro St).” The office has since coordinated with establishments in the area to help them gather information.
Escarez also adds that in general, dangerous/drug-related incidents have lessened in La Salle-Taft area due to ‘civilian spotters’—security personnel dressed in civilian clothes who roam around the area. “We have five ‘civilian spotters’ who go as far as Torre Lorenzo [to the south] and Quirino Avenue [to the north].”
Furthermore, he adds that traffic enforcers also help monitor the safety of students in the area. “For example, if they see someone suspicious conversing with students, they immediately ‘radio in’ these information to the civilian guards.”
Angelica Banzon (II, CAM-ADV) explains that although these only happen to a handful of people, “it always pays to practice caution wherever you go, school included.”
Arianna Olis (I, BS-CHEM) adds that Lasallians have the responsibility of being alert and taking care of their respective belongings. Members of the institution that ensure safety such as guards and other security officers should also be consistent and efficient in their work.
Last July 23, 2012, in Cavite, San Beda College of Law student Marc Andre Marcos died due to hazing. Fellow Bedan Marvin Reglos also died of the same cause earlier that year.
According to the press statement of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), shortly after Reglos’ death, CHED sent an urgent directive to all higher education institutions (HEIs) to strictly comply with the provisions of the Anti-Hazing Law (RA No. 8049) and submit urgently a certified list of existing fraternities and sororities in their respective institutions. San Beda College did not comply with the directive.
San Beda explains that the institution does not recognize such kinds of organizations and that “hazing incidents are serious administrative offenses.” They were unable to send a certified list of officers and members because these fraternities are not recognized.
Considering the two deaths, San Beda College was reminded of its severe responsibilities under the Anti-Hazing Law. “Such acts of violence and injury run counter to the basic values and fundamental principles for which HEIs are established,” according to CHED’s statement.
Safety precautions in DLSU
FAST2011 Legislative Assembly Representative Wendy Penafiel points out that the inspection system imposed in the University is not efficient. She adds that it could potentially put students in grave danger.
Regarding DLSU’s inspection system, Penafiel adds that “it is very easy to point out that it is not as efficient as it should be; hence, posing grave danger to a lot of people.”
To address several cases of stealing, the Office of External Affairs, conducted a research on theft cases in DLSU in cooperation with the Discipline Office. The office has since advanced a proposal to install CCTV Cameras in the University.
The Security and Safety Office has identified three theft hotspots in the campus: Yuchengco lobby, the two conservatories, and the Enrique Razon Sports Complex.
“We have certain policies that support safety of students like the ID policy, bringing in sharp objects and et cetera [as stated in your handbooks],” states
Ms. Fritzie De Vera, Dean of Student Affairs.
Dean of Student Affairs Fritzie De Vera clarifies though, “We have certain policies that support safety of students like the ID policy, bringing in sharp objects and et cetera [as stated in your handbooks].”
Banzon adds that most students already know what to do. She adds, “[We students] all know basic safety and emergency measures, so it’s matter of recalling them in times of need. I think the best DLSU can do is make sure students are aware of basic safety precautions.” Dizon clarifies though that proper implementation of rules set in the interest of safety must always be observed.
Although many Lasallians have grown used to their common surroundings, one can never take potential hazards for granted. “Recognizing the risks, our institution is very strict by having all gates secured, and by having discipline officers and security guards patrol around the campus throughout the day,” Penafiel adds.
Towards a safe community
DLSU is a member of the Task Force Safe School, a project that offers programs and measures to ensure safety not only in the Lasallian community, but also with communities that fellow members St. Scholastica College and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) belong to.
The group includes the barangay chairmen of nearby communities, as well as the parent associations and the student governments of the aforementioned schools. “It’s multi-sectoral since we want to make sure that these sectors are involved in making our community safe,” adds De Vera.
The project is also in collaboration with the Office of the Mayor in Manila and the Manila Police District (MPD).
On CHED’s efforts
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is currently in the process of enhancing the Guidelines on Student Affairs and Services Program. The office is working with resource people from various offices. CHED Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan explains that two of which are the Department of Health (DoH) and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC).
Through partnerships with other government and non-government offices, Licuanan affirms that CHED, through its regional offices, annually monitors the performance of the various student services in all HEIs. The offices then report to the Office of Student Services (OSS) for policy evaluation and enhancement.
CHED is also implementing guidelines to establish Student Crime Prevention Councils in all HEIs. The first of which was created in 1994. The aforementioned council is responsible for creating crime prevention programs, safeguarding peace and order within the school campus, conducting seminars, training, or information drives on crime and prevention and control and reporting illegal activities as well as recommending appropriate sanctions.