De La Salle University (DLSU) has always been keen on keeping its constituents safe. For the past years, guards and ID scanners have been stationed at all entry points of the University to monitor every individual that enters the institution.
However, the President’s Council recently announced the official implementation of a new ID policy, which will require all students, teachers, staff members, and administrators to wear their ID cards at all times while on campus. This has been met with both support and opposition from different sectors within the University.
Fritzie De Vera, Dean of Student Affairs, says, “This is a security measure. Like any other company, school or organization, they require employees/students to wear their IDs inside campus for security reasons.”
Other top universities that require the wearing of IDs in campus for security reasons are Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), University of Asia and Pacific (UA&P), and University of Santo Tomas (UST).
Vice President for Administration Edwin Santiago and De Vera clarify that there was no specific security incident that suddenly prompted the need for this policy. The policy had been in plans for about two years already ever since the integration with STC, and the security incidents considered were considered in accumulation.
When asked how the policy improves security, Santiago shares, “Well, for one, you are able to identify those who are legitimate members of the community.”
The wearing of ID would also help improve the identification of members of the community from outsiders.
“We’ve had cases of students using someone else’s ID. If you wear the ID, you cannot lend it. But if it’s not worn, as soon as you use it, you can pass it on to someone else,” Santiago also adds.
“There are also a lot of incidents where people, who are not students or who have no connection in the University, will go around offices.” De Vera further states.
Santiago explains that it is insufficient to implement the policy selectively, saying, “It cannot be employees lang may ID. Because how will the security guard know whether you are not wearing an ID because you’re not supposed to wear an ID, or you’re just not wearing your ID even if you’re supposed to? So it has to be [applied to] all – everybody wears or nobody wears.”
De Vera says that the current ID policy, which includes scanning IDs upon entry, will remain the same, but the penalties and guidelines for failing to wear the ID in campus are still being finalized by the University Student Government (USG), Council of Student Organizations (CSO), and Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO). Otherwise, the implementation of the new ID policy is already final.
The approval process examined
“[The policy] was approved by the President’s Council,” De Vera narrates, “The proposal came from the Administration Council presided by the VP for Administration. Members of the council proposed that the wearing of the ID be a University Policy.”
According to Patrick Kahn, the Chief Legislator of the University Student Government (USG), the proposal for a Worn ID Policy went through several deliberations in the Student Handbook Revisions Committee.
“The policy was first formally presented to Student Representatives during the second session of the Student Handbook Revisions (SHBR) Committee. The concept was presented to the committee and discussions continued over three sessions. Over this course of time, the student sector expressed our opposition and conducted research regarding the necessity of the policy.”
However, he narrates that the President’s Council eventually executed the policy “before the SHBR committee could decide on the matter formally.” He explains that the SHBR committee is an advisory body that may be bypassed by the directives of the President’s Council.
USG President Carlo Inocencio asserts, “The students of DLSU is considered to be an important stakeholder in the University, I believe that policies that affect student life and the University should undergo consultation with the representatives of the USG. During the President’s Council, the Dean of Student Affairs aired the concerns and sentiments of the student body, coming from our negations in the SHBR level.”
Many students believe the policy was implemented without consulting the members of the Lasallian community. De Vera denies this, clarifying that the administration made efforts to consult the students.
“The students were asked about this and they came up with reasons why they think it is not necessary,” she states, “They came up with a proposal regarding this. This was also discussed with the admin council. However the University decided that to ensure safety and security of members in the campus, this policy has to be implemented.”
She explains that although consultation may be done with students, the decision ultimately depends on the administration and on what is best for the common good.
“You consult because you want to see the different perspectives and perceptions on certain decisions that you make,” DeVera explains, “When we make decisions it will always be for the benefit of the majority or the common good. The decision to implement this is for security reasons and I believe it is also because of our utmost concern for the safety of the students.”
De Vera adds, “The current policy is being implemented in STC and the aim of the University is also to harmonize policies of both campuses, just like what we did for the corporate attire policy in STC.”
Unnecessary, harmful – USG appeals for reconsideration
The USG released a letter addressed to the President’s Council declaring their stance and arguments against the Worn ID policy. Included in the letter were the results of a survey conducted from 1,538 students–5 of which were considered invalid– showing that more students oppose the new ID policy.
Aside from Inocencio and Kahn, the letter was also signed by Wilbur Chua, the chairperson for CSO and Jose Mari Carpena, the Convener of the Graduate Student Council (GSC).
In summary, the arguments contained in the letter state that the policy does not address the real security concerns of the university and poses risks to the students. It was also argued that the policy gives criminals another way to blend in, creates complacency when it comes to identifying suspicious elements in the university, and puts students at risk of being targets of criminal acts on the occasion that they leave campus without removing their IDs.
They also argue that the policy goes against the liberal nature of the University, particularly in terms of giving students as much agency over their appearance as possible.
Kahn shares that they have yet to receive a response from the persons addressed in their later, but adds that they are continuing their discussions. “Our next steps of action will be to initiate a petition campaign after General Elections 2015 as well as organize a multisectoral forum regarding the policy in order to continue the conversation on the proposal. We will exhaust all options of all appeal regarding this policy,” Kahn narrates.
“I cannot exactly say whether we are winning or losing, but what I can honestly say is that the USG will not stop in making sure that the sentiments and voices of the students will be heard and known,” Inocencio concludes.
While an official statement has not been released in response to the USG’s petition, Santiago and De Vera were willing to share their takes on the arguments presented in the letter and by students.
On the argument that current entry measures are enough to safeguard students, Santiago responds, “Well, that’s either their conclusion or their assumption that it is enough. The position of the admin is that it is not enough because there are certain cases which could have been prevented if this policy were in effect earlier.”
“Scanning is just one part of it,” he adds, “Scan mo, okay. Eh may mga paraan doon (Well, there are ways around that). So the more air-tight solution would be to ask people to wear it.”
In response to the argument that blind spots in campus are the real problem, and that criminals will blend in, Santiago clarifies, “We never claimed that the new policy will be the end-all, be-all solution that once you have this, crime will stop; no more problems. It’s not, we don’t claim that. In fact, there is no one solution.”
De Vera also argues that it is easier for criminals to blend in with an environment that does not require the wearing of IDs in campus than in one that does.
Regarding the issue that students wearing IDs outside campus may make them visible targets for criminals, Santiago responds, “Criminals will not really discriminate. If they see an opportunity, whether you’re DLSU student or not, they will grant that opportunity.”
He adds, “[Following that logic], we might as well prohibit wearing of jackets, t-shirts, bags, and all other merchandise, because that achieves the same thing. Naka-jacket ka, in-iidentify mo ang sarili mo na estudyante ka ng La Salle (You’re wearing a jacket, you are identifying yourself as a student of DLSU). If you truly believe that you will be a target, then don’t forget to remove your ID.”
De Vera also explains that the primary concern of the University is the security of students while inside campus. She states that while this does not mean that the administration ignores the security of students in the vicinity, the student’s safety is ultimately his or her own responsibility outside.
In response to the argument that the ID policy goes against the liberal nature of the University, Santiago argues the concept of social contract, where some freedoms are surrendered in favor of the common good of a community. In this instance, that common good is campus security.
“Enhance safety – I’m not saying zero crime. Wear the ID, and scan it. Is that too much to ask?” Santiago asks.
According to the Help Desk Announcement from the Office of the President and Chancellor, the implementation of the new ID policy will begin on May 6 this year, or on the first day of special term.