Lasallians are no strangers to showing school spirit. It’s common to see students wearing lanyards and t-shirts of their beloved institution, even sporting decals and stickers on their gadgets and cars as a way of showing school pride. We’ve also probably heard “Animo La Salle!” and “Living the Animo!” one time too many during our stay in the University, but this expression of school pride and enthusiasm transcends even after we’ve completed the duration of our undergrad years in DLSU.
However, while waving your university’s banner is one thing, excessive school pride on the verge of elitism is another. It’s not new hearing people say, “La Salle? Mga elitista estudyante diyan,” nor is it new to hear two people from two different schools bickering about which school is better. It is not new, even, to hear some students, in all their hubris and glory, claim that they go to the best school in the country, simply because they can afford its hefty tuition.
When elitism and pride collide
Our patron saint, St. John Baptist De La Salle himself, dedicated his life to giving poor people equal opportunities when it came to education. As an institution of higher learning, DLSU prides itself as a school for the poor and of the poor. There are many opportunities to study in the University for those undergoing financial difficulties, and in 2008, DLSU committed to giving full scholarship grants to 20 percent of its student population. So where does the supposed elitism come from?
Dr. Melvin Jabar, a sociologist professor, mentions that although school pride does not necessarily involve a feeling of superiority, some individuals think they are superior simply because of the name of their alma mater. Since we have a strong affiliation to our alma mater, this shapes our identity and the way we view ourselves.
“Your school reflects your economic status and degree of affluence. Schools, knowingly or unknowingly, are reproducing social inequalities because expensive schools can only cater to students who have the economic capacity to avail of expensive education,” shares Dr. Melvin.
“And since our society is credentialist, these inequalities are then magnified to which we are creating a social capital which creates social inequality knowingly or otherwise,” Dr. Melvin continues, citing the University’s emphasis on credentials as a prerequisite for employment.
Dr. Melvin, who attended DLSU back in 2004 for his master’s degree, even shares that some people have called him an elitist simply because of his position as a professor in DLSU. “But I really don’t think this is true,” he defends. “Most of our students are economically affluent, but this does not mean that they are already elitist.”
It is no secret that DLSU is considered as one of the ‘big four’ universities in the Philippines, and simply being a student of any of these schools gives one some amount of bragging rights. Although we are all encouraged to ‘Live the Animo’ and show our school spirit, one cannot deny that excessive school pride can lead to entitlement and superiority. There is a fine line between pride and elitism when it comes to schools, and this is evident not just in DLSU, but in all schools around the world.
It is easy to let all the school pride get in one’s head and turn into one’s way of thinking. Asking one student from the College of Business why there seems to be a stereotype outside the University of Lasallians being elitists, he replies, “They think that [Lasallians] only talk with people who [they think] are [on] the same level as them. They [also] see Lasallians as conyo people.”
One student from the College of Liberal Arts also shares her input that, “DLSU looks like a prestigious school and it is well known abroad. It is natural to think that students [who] come from DLSU are elitists. DLSU has built its identity and established itself [both] abroad and in the Philippines.” Another shares, “Because a lot of people tend to fall for fallacies and hastily generalize the whole University by basing their standards on specific individuals.”
But that’s only one side of the coin. Asking students from other schools what they think of Lasallians, one replies with, “They come off as elitists. It’s because of the high tuition fee and how the people talk and dress there.” Another mentions that her view on Lasallians is based on “past incidents with DLSU alumni in workplaces and in public that have made me think that they are too proud. Whatever a graduate does outside will definitely affect the reputation of his or her alma mater.”
Lasallian achievers for God and country
The impression that one’s school is better than another is something that we should all cast aside. Privileged as we are to study in DLSU, that does not equal to us being better than others. Whether it is only a few or a majority of Lasallians that actually think this way, it is still a concept that should be forgotten.
Most people don’t usually put much thought into what school you come from or how expensive the tuition is unless there’s a hidden motive. What’s important
is not the history or prestige of one’s school but the values they learn from the school and how these values affect them and turn them into catalysts of positive transformation in society.