*Bea saw two exchange students smoking on the steps of the Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall on her way out of the building. The sophomore was sure that no student or faculty member could smoke within five meters from the campus, according to the student handbook, but no one in sight was calling the attention of the two international students.
She decided to forget what she saw, realizing that her next class was still in St. La Salle Hall. Bea rushed to the Agno entrance, hoping that she would be able to beat the 15-minute classroom transfer rush. Upon entering the gate, she again noticed that a different exchange student was allowed entry to the campus despite not complying with the University dress code.
Hesitant to indulge in the thought that the University treats its international students differently – granting them preferential treatment – Bea just thought that Filipinos are naturally hospitable and pleasant to foreigners, Lasallians and other University stakeholders included.
External Relations and Internationalization Executive Director, Dr. Alvin Culaba, addresses Bea’s concern by clarifying that the University doesn’t grant preferential treatment to exchange students or visiting professors. He highlights that the student handbook and the faculty manual govern all Lasallian students and professors, respectively, regardless of the length of their stay in the University or their nationality.
As a matter of fact
Culaba explains that international students and visiting professors are required to undergo a more stringent application process compared to their local counterparts. For an international student to be able to study at De La Salle University (DLSU), the institution he or she is affiliated with must have an existing agreement with the University. On the other hand, international faculty could either become a visiting professor or regular instructor. A visiting professor is usually invited to teach certain courses for a term or two, while an academic department must endorse the international faculty to its college’s dean.
The Vice Chancellor for Academics must approve of the engagement of the regular international faculty before he or she could teach at DLSU. In addition to the aforementioned, exchange students and foreign professors must comply with the other policies such as submitting a copy of their visas, immigration papers, and other requirements attached to staying in foreign soil temporarily.
Grant Nelson, an international faculty member from the Psychology Department, verifies the more stringent application process for foreign faculty members. “I believe the hiring process is more difficult for a foreign professor. The collection and amount of documents needed was more than I’ve ever experienced and while I understand the need, the process delayed my on boarding by two semesters,” narrates Nelson.
The Psychology Department professor furthers that the delay brought by completing the hefty paperwork requirements only cost him his fulltime teaching status. “While my department has been great at keeping me busy, I’m still fighting for load shift, from part-time to fulltime,” Nelson quips.
Nicolas Honvault is one of the three students sent by L’Institut Polytechnique La Salle Beauvais to study English at DLSU. His university has a program where it sends its students to different countries as exposure to the usage of the English language. Honvault also clarifies that he hasn’t experienced any special treatment from anyone at La Salle. More so, he expresses that the closest to preferential treatment he has experienced was receiving unsolicited advice and warnings on how to survive Manila commute.
On a lighter note, Culaba shares that having the opportunity to study abroad without paying additional tuition and fees from what they regularly pay in their university of origin could be one of the few advantages an exchange student has over other Lasallians. Nelson also imparts that the orientations and lectures made available to foreign students and professors greatly helped him in making transitions into the University. “The security guards, vendors, librarians, human resources, cooks, and ground keepers have all made my transition and sense of being welcomed a successful one,” he ends, mentioning the unwarranted attention that comes with being a foreigner residing in the Philippines.
Word of caution
Culaba reminds that all international students and professors must follow University policies such as observing the proper dress code, having their IDs with them at all times, among others. He adds that other University stakeholders such as security guards, secretaries, and faculty members must also take responsibility in apprehending students whenever they violate a school policy. Some foreign students and faculty scholars don’t have the time to master the handbook guidelines because of the short length of their stay in the University.
He also points out that members of the Lasallian community shouldn’t have a difficult time communicating with foreign students and professors, since all international members have ample knowledge on the use of the English language. There’s no reason of letting violations slip, since guards, secretaries, and faculty members could provide feedback through speaking in English.
The external relations executive director ends by clearing that what Bea witnessed in Andrew Hall and in the Agno entrance were isolated cases. Culaba remains firm in guaranteeing that no international student or professor receives preferential treatment from the school.
DLSU is in the process of actualizing its goal of becoming a world-class university by opening itself up to the world through maintaining international linkages. Even though this is a priority, the University should still ensure the equity and equality of student and faculty life in campus, regardless of race or nationality.
*Names were changed to protect the identity of the subject