UniversityTaking the offensive against offenses
Taking the offensive against offenses

“The current offenses we’ve recorded are not as many as before… I guess many students have learned to take responsibility of their actions.”

This was Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO) Discipline Enforcement Section Head Ronald Encabo’s reply in Filipino when asked about the recent trends in offenses.

In the previous academic year, the top minor offenses committed by students were ID policy violations, eating policy violations, and disobedience of classroom policies. Meanwhile, habitual disregard for policies, fraud, and cheating top the list of the most common major offenses.

Compared to AY 2012-2013, the rankings seem to remain unchanged, despite a noticeable reduction in the total number of offenses. However, it still remains to be seen whether or not this was a result of better implementation on the part of the administration, or simply random chance.

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Underlying patterns

Further explaining the decreasing trend, Encabo reveals that before, cases rose to as high as 300 per month. Recently, on the other hand, reported cases would number less than 100 in the same span of time. But Encabo clarifies that the reduction of major offenses does not necessarily mean that less students commit offenses.

He shares that most students would opt not to undergo the long procedure of processing the complaint. According to him, some complainants find it difficult to attend hearings or complete the necessary paperwork as these cause conflicts in their class attendance.

The college a student belongs to seems to also have an effect on the number of cases. Encabo cites an example of how College of Liberal Arts (CLA) students tend to violate the dress code policy more often than students hailing from another college. He believes that these underlying trends may possibly stem from peer pressure, and that this would cause some students to willing violate the policies despite being fully aware of them.

Analyzing the available data from AY 2012-2013, The LaSallian found that based on computed odds, CLA students were indeed more likely to violate the dress code policy as well as the no smoking policy. Further, it was also found that Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business students were more likely to habitually disregard policies.

Surprisingly, other strange trends were found, such as Br. Andrew Gonzalez College of Education students being more likely to disobey classroom policies and College of Science students being more likely to commit acts of cheating and plagiarism.

To confirm the results with recent data, a request was made to acquire the statistics from the previous academic year, but as of press time, the SDFO was unwilling to disclose the documents.
Reducing the statistic

The SDFO has tried various means to educate the students regarding the policies, such as disseminating information online through Facebook and the DLSU email, as well as giving awareness campaigns, lectures and orientations for the students.

Recently there have been less signs posted around campus as the SDFO began relying on their online presence to remind students of the policies.

“Now, we also go to the Vice Deans to report the offenses of the students. Usually the Vice Deans are the ones who coordinate with the students if they have any problems on academics or [discipline-related issues],” Encabo says.

He also laments how difficult it is to handle thousands of students when there are only around 11 discipline officers available for the task. From time to time, they also have the added burden of assisting in several activities.

To reiterate the policies to students, they have also partnered with the Theology and Religious Education Department (TRED) in order to conduct lectures and orientations in classes handled by TRED, specifically, TREDTWO.

Encabo is also positive that the students who are taking or have taken up TREDTWO would less likely disobey and disregard policies now that they have been educated by the SDFO.
Doesn’t always work

Despite the efforts of SDFO to implement and inform students regarding University policies, a large number of students still either continuously disregard the rules or remain ignorant about them.

According to Encabo, the SDFO constantly finds these students who have disobeyed the policies by paging their IDs and sending notices in their My.LaSalle (MLS) accounts and DLSU email accounts.

However, most of the cases remain unresolved because, as Encabo explains, the sound of an ID being paged is “already music to students”. Meanwhile, he also narrates that some students reason that they do not have the time to drop by the SDFO, or in some major offense cases, students simply do not want to bother themselves with processing papers for filing cases and grievances or attend hearings.

The notices in MLS, however, somehow work for the SDFO because parents have access to the MLS accounts. Once the parents see these notices, they would encourage their children to address concerns they have with the SDFO.
Planned changes

The SDFO are not directly involved in the formulation of policies, and only serve as an implementing body. Because of this, Encabo explains that the SDFO has been responsible for providing recommendations to the Student Handbook Revisions Committee (SHRC) regarding the offenses committed.

USG President Carlo Inocencio shares that as of present, revisions made on the Student Handbook have yet to be finalized, with the goal of completing the task by the end of March.

In terms of specific offenses, Vice President for Internal Affairs Pram Menghrajani says that so far, rules such as the eating policy and the ID policies have been clarified in their talks. According to her, one of the changes in the policy is the permission to eat light snacks in the classroom. However, EXCEL2015 Legislative Assembly Representative Micah Fernando clarifies that for the eating policy, professors can still set their own rules on what food can be eaten in class.

Fernando also stresses that policies on academic honesty will be implemented more strictly, citing its importance on the character of Lasallians. “For the succeeding year and the years to come, academic dishonesty is really going to be frowned upon true to the vision of DLSU of being a leading learner-centered research university,” he says.

Fernando further explains that they have taken into consideration how the revisions can help in personal development, instead of formulating offenses for the sake of punishment.

“We made the policies and the processes in a way that would make the students grow. Rather than creating offenses just acts as deterrents only, we want to implement policies that will mold the students to eventually reduce offenses themselves,” he concludes.