OpinionIs anyone listening?
Is anyone listening?
July 12, 2016
July 12, 2016

It is a rare thing to see the student body united—across all colleges and among all levels—on a single issue. When the administration proposed the change in the day of the U Break from Fridays to Mondays, however, the diverse student body responded last month with a collective and resounding no.

More recently, the University Student Government (USG) conducted a survey on a revised proposal, this time creating a five-day schedule that organizes classes into Monday-Wednesday, Tuesday-Thursday, and Wednesday-Friday time blocks. A total of 3,378 students took the survey in a span of 48 hours, and 95.06 percent are not in favor of the change. This, along with students’ collective response on social media and in everyday conversation, is overwhelmingly negative.

At 12 nn tomorrow, the USG is set to meet the Academics Council to present the stand of the students on the issue at hand, built from recommendations gathered from consultations with different student sectors and the survey conducted earlier this week. It is the first time in three years that student representatives will present in front of the Academics Council, and to say that there is a lot riding on this meeting, quite frankly, is an understatement.

It is difficult to make sense of the rationale, not when such a change would appear to bring forth more problems than it aims to solve, and most definitely not when the administration would seem to implement the change with or without the student body’s response anyway.

The real reason behind the proposal was not immediately made known to the Lasallian community. In a series of eight separate help desk announcements, nothing was stipulated as to the reason behind the proposal. In a proverbial calm before the storm, the Lasallian community was left in the dark until USG President Pram Menghrajani, in a Facebook group for student leaders, bared that the reason behind the proposal was to curb students’ “excessive drinking” during Thursday nights, known among DLSU students as Happy Thursday.

ubreak cartoon

Policies opposed by the student body have been implemented before, and while it is difficult (if not downright impossible) to come to a conclusion that is amenable to all, it is also just as difficult to accept a decision that is so clearly detrimental to the student body if the council pushes through with it after tomorrow’s presentations. The USG has on their shoulders the weight of championing the rights of the student body, of laying down the arguments that so many have contributed to and formed over the course of the consultations, of making sure the administration hears what the students have to say. But what this boils down to in the end is a much bigger issue than Happy Thursday. We’ve fought policy battles like this in the past and lost them, but this time around, we can’t afford to lose, not when so much is at stake.

There is already a deep distrust between the administration and the student body, and this is what that decision would mean: That the five-day week will take its toll on students, especially those who will end up spending more time, energy, and money in transportation is irrelevant to this council. That provincial students get to spend less time with their families is irrelevant. That student organizations would have less time and opportunity to organize themselves and conduct large-scale projects, team buildings, or socio-civic activities is irrelevant. That the student body as well as many among the faculty is vehemently against the proposal is, apparently, irrelevant. Most of all, the very real possibility that it will not stop students from drinking or partying anyway is irrelevant.

The message this could give—that students were only consulted for the sake of consultation, and even more importantly, that their opinion does not matter in making a choice that is just as significant to them as it is to the administration—is one that should scare and offend the student body.

The heated discussions come right when the next USG General Elections are set to unfold, at a time when political parties and their candidates are vigorously preparing their speeches on student rights and representation. Today’s leaders are working hard to make sure the students’ voice is heard, but if there is no one willing to listen, then why bother with student representation?