Students should speak up now — with the deadline for proposed student handbook revisions nearing this July, the University Student Government (USG), administration, and faculty are busy identifying concerns to be included in the new policy proposals.
Every three years, the student handbook is opened for revisions. During this period, policy concerns from different sectors are collected then discussed in a multi-sectoral committee meeting. Once modified or retained, the proposals are sent to the DLSU President’s Council for approval.
According to USG Vice President of Internal Affairs (OVPIA) Pram Menghrajani, the USG’s consultation and research process with students is still ongoing.
She explains that the USG is being careful, giving a hypothetical example: “One group would say no dress code, the other would say no changes. We’re [just] the ones bridging the people to each other in gathering data.”
She adds that their policy proposals cannot be specified publicly as of press time. However, she is open to disclosing popular student concerns so far. Persistent student concerns include dress code and ID policies, enrollment and honors policies, attendance and make-up class policies, and improvements on the grievance process.
When asked about handbook revisions, student opinions are generally positive. Brian* (II, BSA) says, “As students, we should be allowed to have a stake in the implementation of school policies. I’m glad that through the ongoing revisions, we’re allowed to do just that.”
Lauren* (III, CHY) likewise expresses, “The administration and the students can come to a compromise regarding rules in the school. Everyone ends up having [their] voice heard.”
Jen* (III, ECE) worries about student representation, asking, “Only a number of students meet with the administration to discuss the revisions. How sure are we that these people truly represent how the entire student body [feels] about issues with the handbook?”
Menghrajani explains that the first three weeks of June are devoted to conducting open forums, dialogues, and consultations with different student groups and sectors. The USG is also conducting surveys through their website and social media outlets.
Last April, the USG used Twitter hashtags #SanaSaDLSU and #SHB2014 to gather relevant student concerns on University policies currently in place. The responses were recorded and tallied.
Through the hashtags, students asked for a more relaxed dress code and left ID/lost ID sanctions, while others wanted the restrictions gone entirely.
Other students expressed dismay about qualifications for Dean’s Honors and Latin Honors. Lasallian @RyHCT tweeted, “#SanaSaDLSU Wala na rule na “NO BELOW 2.0” para maging Dean’s Lister. :(“.
Similarly, @jianne__ tweeted, “#SanaSaDLSU may chance pa mag Latin Honors yung may failure (reinstated).”
Newly-elected Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) representative Micah Fernando says that the LA expects to deliberate on the policies mentioned above.
Students also brought up the effectiveness of enrollment and adjustment processes, citing the lack of class slots availability.
In addition, Menghrajani shares that they are researching on improved approved absence policies, attendance policies, and a possible integrated gadget pass. The pass would store gadget permit information in the student’s ID.
Integration and academic shifts
Dean of Student Affairs Fritzie Ian De Vera shares the administration’s main concerns. “This year we would like to already integrate the possible implications of the academic shift in the calendar to the different processes included in the student handbook,” she says.
“Together with this is to completely harmonize policies with our STC campus,” De Vera adds. “There are certain provisions that we still have to integrate and harmonize with Taft.”
According to the February issue of The LaSallian, policy discrepancies remained with the DLSU-STC merger. Among these is the smoother integration of enrollment processes, plus unified dress code and ID policies. Using ID lanyards and wearing corporate on Wednesdays were Canlubang–specific policies.
The pilot phase of the integration concluded last academic year.
Grievance process remains relevant
Meanwhile, Faculty Association (FA) President Dante Leoncini explains the FA wants a quicker grievance process, by allowing the resolution of cases through “position papers”, after all sides and witnesses have been considered by the grievance board.
The current grievance procedure in Section 6 of the Student Handbook is being criticized as a factor that makes grievance resolution too long.
“The present set-up takes a long process – presentation of evidence by the complainant, cross-examination by the respondent’s party and then a redirect by the party of the complainant,” cites Leoncini, further elaborating a series of multiple cross -examination procedures.
“Not to mention the board’s questioning of both parties…When witnesses are not present, each side can ask for at least one postponement,” the FA president quips.
Taking into account the aforementioned student concerns and more, proposals will be drafted and presented to the USG Legislative Assembly (LA).
Once the LA approves of the proposals, the proposals are deliberated and agreed upon by the multi-sectoral student handbook committee. Proposed revisions are then sent to the DLSU President’s Council for approval.
“Once the LA is done passing all their resolutions, that’s when we pass it (proposals) to the administration. We’re going to start meeting [for the handbook revisions] by July until September,” informs Menghrajani.
The Student Handbook committee is composed of USG representatives, administration representatives, and FA representatives.
Engineering Professor Oscar Unas is the FA’s representative, while one of the administration representatives is the Dean of Student Affairs. De Vera mentions that there could still be changes in the roster of representatives the administration will appoint to participate in the student handbook revisions.
USG representatives are USG President Carlo Inocencio, Vice President for Internal Affairs Pram Menghrajani and STRAW Chairperson Micah Fernando.
Once all proposals are finalized and approved by the President’s Council, the new student handbook will be effective from AY 2015 -2018. The handbook was last revised in 2011.
*Students interviewed wish to maintain their anonymity.
Erratum: The article initially stated that Latin Honors were not awarded to students with a 1.0 grade in any subject. In Section 6.4.4 of the current Student Handbook, students are, in fact, qualified for Latin Honors if they have no failures. The article has been accordingly updated to reflect similar concerns about current Honors policies.