The word apathy has been thrown around throughout my stay in the University. Many professors continue to criticize students because all they care about is according to these professors, “getting a good job in a multinational corporation that pays extremely well.”
The argument that people lack interest, concern or enthusiasm, collectively known as apathy, has reached most of the sectors of the University.
Even student leaders have used the word for a good amount of reason in explaining why most Lasallians do not attend events that cater to the less privileged. Moreover, apathy has become one of the greatest and sadly, the strongest justification for the University Student Government’s (USG) and other Council of Student Organizations (CSO) members’ choice of projects— parties, games and all.
And while the proceeds of the projects go to the less privileged, somehow, it means much less since most students bank on their existing competency—money in their pockets, and the ability to convince professors to give incentives to compensate for the money lost.
The evidence is everywhere. Most USG or CSO sponsored activities that would actually help Lasallians contribute to society or at least bring them out of their comfort zones have suffered low attendance rates because as many put it: people just don’t care.
And what’s even more alarming is that many communities around us are starting to notice our apathy and our growing brand— that is, an expensive and a pretty much Darwinian dog-eat-dog kind of community.
The worst part is that many students forget to fight for themselves and for each other. The dwindling number of grievance cases, which bank on the unity of a class and its conviction, is enough proof to show that students are not yet starting to think for themselves.
Instead of helping each other and making sure that they actually get to learn from their professors, many students focus on easy 4.0s and tolerate professors who constantly step on their rights for as long as they pass.
And while there are those professors, students and staff who continue to believe that our community cares, it is difficult to blame those who have repeatedly tried and failed to change our culture when they say that Lasallians do not care at all.
The conclusion is inevitable—Lasallians must be apathetic, but somehow, I find this hard to swallow. How can a hundred year old institution that has contributed to the country in various ways—research, leaders and innovators—suddenly freeze over? How could our education, which was built on progressive ideals suddenly regress?
I stumbled upon my answer a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to find any piece of evidence that I could stumble upon to prove that Lasallians do care. I looked at some University-led and USG projects and of course, the proceeds that came with them, but found little evidence of real student participation.
And like all people who could not get an answer, I turned to our favorite pastime—Facebook. While checking notifications, I read a story a friend of mine posted on Facebook. He bought a gold necklace from a person along Taft, knowing that it was stolen with the intention of returning it to the owner.
The answer hit me when I asked myself: how could Lasallians be apathetic when one Lasallian went out of his way to find a complete stranger to return something he bought? And while many can argue that he could just be one of the exceptions, a quick look on any Lasallian’s Facebook would yield a pretty similar image—many Instagram photos, vacation photos, and more importantly, articles, stories and pictures that have comments and likes!
These are empirical and unquestionable pieces of evidence showing that Lasallians do care about the La Salle community and about the country. What is even more interesting is that if you look at the people commenting and sharing articles. These people are not the “best,” the “leaders”, the “popular” in the University; many of them are regular stakeholders of the University who many believe have no voice and no capability to share anything of value.
One quick look at our Facebook and website grounded my belief. In just a year, our website received more than a million page views and more than 800 comments, most of which come from Lasallians. Moreover, many of these comments offer relevant and constructive suggestions and inputs on the topics discussed, which can only lead to one definitive conclusion—Lasallians care.
But one question remains unanswered. If many Lasallians care online, why don’t they attend the activities? Why can’t they fight for each other? Why can’t we transcend this culture back to the University?
Perhaps we have looked at the problem in the wrong way. Instead of looking at the students, maybe it is time that we look at the institutions at DLSU, which assumed in the first place that students don’t care.
To be fair, the USG and the University have done many things worthy of being called ‘in line’ with the Lasallian mission, but while these institutions have done much, they have clearly lacked in treating students as relevant stakeholders, who have their own voice.
These institutions must understand that the first step in killing apathy is by proactively seeking the real participation of students. In this way, students would start feeling that that their voices matter.
The challenge is not at all easy, and will not be accomplished anytime soon. Projects are really hard to make, and as we make our way towards this ideal state, at times, we have to settle for something less for the greater good of the project. One thing, however, must not be lost in the process: it is the idea that students care.