To prevent delays caused by frequent Monday class suspensions in past trimesters, the University adopted a Tuesday to Friday regular class schedule for the second term of AY 2017-2018.
The University Break (U Break) shift was initially proposed during a town hall meeting organized by University Chancellor Dr. Robert Roleda last October 6, 2017, and was later approved for implementation after evaluation by the Academics Council, Chancellor’s Council, and President’s Council.
From its release down to the official approval, the U Break shift was met with strong opposition from various sectors of the University, especially from the students. Although the new weekly schedule is still subject to evaluation following the end of its trial run for this term, student organizations have already been strongly affected by the change since most programs, seminars, and other major activities in the past were typically held during Fridays.
With the new U Break schedule in effect, The LaSallian looks into the views and opinions of students coming from different organizations in the University.
From CSO’s perspective
For Council of Student Organizations (CSO) Chairperson Jayrene Cruz (V, CAM-ADV), their earlier predictions of the problems that may be caused by the U Break shift have proven to be true. CSO released a statement in November 2017 opposing the proposed U Break shift due to three reasons—a projected decline in student participation, increased difficulty in acquiring external partners, and limited attendance to two-day or three-day conventions.
“What is most affected by the U Break shift is the regular meetings that commonly occur on Fridays. Now, officers are torn between scheduling them on a Saturday – so as not to break the “school day” streak – or a Monday, so as not to take weekends from members,” explains Cruz. She adds that the member organizations of CSO have taken their own steps to adjust to the new schedule.
CSO’s Activity Monitoring Team and Organizational Relations and Analysis Team have also found that org-sponsored activities like general assemblies and seminar-workshops now tend to be scheduled on Friday afternoons, from 4 pm onwards. Cruz also adds that students who wish to attend conferences slated for Friday to Saturday or Friday to Sunday now have to secure approved absences, which is still subject to approval by the Office of Student Affairs.
Sentiments from student organizations
A month after the U Break shift’s implementation, students have largely retained their initial opposition to the change for various reasons. Several member organizations of CSO share the governing body’s concerns regarding their activities and programs scheduled for this term.
Eizel Sanchez (IV, BS-MGT), President of the Business Management Society (BMS), believes that the previous U Break schedule should have been retained. BMS often holds activities on Thursday nights and Friday mornings and afternoons, taking into consideration Friday plans and traffic.
For Team Communication (TeamComm) President Courtney Ong (III, CAM-ADV), the unavailability of speakers who can attend their events is the main predicament of the organization. “The number of events greatly dropped which can also affect the performance and name of the org,” she emphasizes.
In relation to the scarcity of guests, Ley La Salle is also faced with the problem of having less members and officers free to facilitate activities. Executive Vice President for External Affairs Arielle Ong (III, BS-LGL) states, “Knowing how draining the new U Break schedule is, we can’t and won’t schedule too many activities a week.” She expresses, “On top of that, we try to make sure that we don’t compete with other organizations’ events. We all have to work together to support each other’s events.”
Issues on scheduling and proceedings of events, activities
With scheduling now being a primary concern, organizations had to rethink their initial plans for Term 2 activities and programs that had been prepared prior to the implementation of the U Break shift.
As an organization centered on out-of-campus activities, most of the Outdoor Club’s ventures were scheduled during Fridays and weekends—and even Thursday nights depending on the activity. “When we were planning our Cubs Training Program, we had a hard time deciding [to hold it on] Friday night from 6 to 9 pm, Saturday, or Monday afternoon, [instead] of our original plan of implementing it on Friday afternoons from 1-4 pm.” President Roselle Enriquez (V, AEF-FIN) shares. Their off-campus trips are also compromised because of the expected influx of tourists in some places.
Sociedad de Historia Vice President for Activities and Academic Research Jose Coronel V (III, AB-HIS) asserts that his organization was immensely affected because they conduct field trips that usually fall on a Friday in order to give students time to prepare for the trip and recuperate from the academic week. He expounds: “We had to schedule it now on a Saturday, as it is harder to get students to join a field trip on a Monday [since] the weekend just finished and the academic week hasn’t started.” He continues, “Students don’t want to feel tired off the bat as the week starts.”
On the other hand, TeamComm has struggled with ensuring that the number of participants for their upcoming major events, such as the annual Freedom Film Festival (FFF), will meet their target. Courtney Ong elaborates, “We now have to [schedule] it during Friday nights, but most students might not be able to watch because of Friday traffic going home. [We have also scheduled it] on Saturdays but students might [also] be at their home provinces already.”
Envisioning potential long-term compromises
Although the University administration, University Student Government, and CSO are still in the process of monitoring the effects brought about by the U Break shift during its trial run, it is possible that the new system will be adopted for usage in succeeding terms. Should this be the case, some student organizations have already begun to think of long-term plans to ensure a smoother transition.
Given the persisting issue of scheduling, Ong suggests that organizations refrain from having two consecutive days of seminars or overnight activities. Alternatively, Coronel sees this as an incentive for organizers to make their activities more enticing to students so that they would still be encouraged to participate.
Ultimately, Cruz believes that should a long-term implementation of the new U Break schedule be on the horizon, the student organizations will rise to meet the challenges it brings. “As of now, it is still early to determine [specific] changes. But, as I said, organizations are able to transition smoothly save for [a] few inconveniences. We have to; for the sake of maintaining the quality of our activities and initiatives,” she concludes.