From a major calendar shift, to having new faces in the admin. From political disputes, to failures of candidacy. From establishing new facilities, to revoking modes of payment. From getting visited by a luminary in the business industry, to producing Lasallian achievers, A.Y. 2017-2018 is arguably one of the most controversial and eventful academic years in the Lasallian community.
As it draws to an end, The LaSallian takes a trip down the memory lane to revisit issues and events that both raised eyebrows and drew excitement.
The proposal to move the U-break by the end of 2017 created an uproar within the DLSU community. With its initial proposal, the controversial shift from Fridays to Mondays troubled students who would go home during Fridays, org-related activities during Fridays, and part-timer faculty members who are only available during Mondays.
The rational motive given by the administration was to move the U-break from Fridays to Mondays due to a 10-year data that presented Mondays with the most frequent class suspensions. Students opposed to this argument claiming that the next suspensions cannot be predicted. With the running disagreements between different bodies, the USG attempted to present counter proposals to the administration. Students also used different social media sites as a platform to voice out their opinions such as the #NoToUBreak hashtag used on Twitter.
The administration, however, insisted on the new U-break and the proposal was consequently approved. From a controversial discussion, the U-break now in operation, seems to have been embedded in DLSU culture.
New admin appointments
Even before the start of the academic year, the Office of the President announced through a Helpdesk Announcement that Dr. Robert Roleda and Dr. Merlin Suarez were appointed as the new Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Academics, respectively.
Pivotal changes in the University were implemented since their appointments which include further preparations for the revised curriculum and the New Lasallian Core Curriculum, the establishment of the 24/7 study facility, and the integration of the Laguna campus.
More recently, Ms. Fritzie De Vera and Dr. Raymund Sison were announced to be holding offices as the Vice President for Lasallian Mission and Dean of the Br. Andrew Gonzales FSC College of Education, respectively, starting September 1.
Abolishment of reimbursement process
For University-recognized organizations and offices, financing projects and events has always been a serious challenge. Negligence of those in-charge has always been discounted until the beginning of the second term this year when the administration decided to rule out the reimbursement system, which encourages overspending and manipulation.
Prior to its prohibition, the administration have long discouraged reimbursement as the number of mishandled cases continue to increase. In this mode of payment, it is inevitable that project heads and members take out cash from their own pockets to finance their projects. However, only some are able to reclaim their money.
With reimbursement out of the picture, organizations and groups had to make necessary adjustments and were forced to resort to other legal processes such as cash advancement, direct payment, liquidation, and book transfer. Nonetheless, finance heads and officers still believe that the administration should consider certain cases as exemptions especially with the number of events and projects increasing every year.
Student, institutional achievements
Throughout the past year, DLSU has been blessed with successes in different areas. One notable field is in creating useful and inspiring startups.
Last March, The LaSallian interviewed Ralph Regalado, a former College of Computer Studies (CCS) professor on his award-winning social media analytics startup called Senti. Meanwhile, April featured Gero Tan Seng (BS CS-CSE, 2017) who is already managing three businesses at 23, and was featured as the youngest solar power supplier in the Philippines.
In the field of engineering, the DLSU eco car team ranked seventh in terms of efficiency in the Shell Eco Car Marathon last March. In addition, last April, three Industrial Engineering students competed in Hult Prize regionals at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
In the area of public speaking, the La Salle Debate Society won as national champions of the Philippine Inter-Collegiate Debate Championships. Katherine Albert (JPS-LGL, IV), Patrich Lozano (BS-MKT, III) and Marina Lim (DVS-FIN, III), who made up the champion team, were recognized as best, third best and seventh best speakers, respectively. Another team, composed of Francine Chan (PSY-APC, IV), Hannah Solayao (ABIS-EUS, III), Lyssa Ajero (BS-MKT, III) reached the octofinals. The adjudicators were Mikaela Zulueta (ABIS-EUS, IV), Zeke Lim (BS-PHY, V), Lorenzo Gantuangco (BS-IBS, IV), and Isabel Sedano (AB-LIT, III) for the finals, semi-finals, quarter-finals and breaking rounds, respectively. Zulueta was awarded as the eighth best adjudicator, while Lim was awarded as the tenth best.
DLSU’s delegation to the Model United Nations in DC won Outstanding Delegation, Outstanding Position Paper for Security Council, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and General Assembly 1 and Outstanding Delegates for Commission on Narcotic Drugs. On the other hand, the University’s New York delegation won Outstanding Delegation, and Outstanding Position Paper for Committee on Narcotic Drugs.
At the local level, DLSU graduates topped different board exams, with Jan Si (BS-CHE, 2018) placing second in the Chemical Engineering exam and Robert Arrojo (BSA, 2018) placing sixth in the Accounting exam.
Jack Ma in DLSU
Last October, Lasallians were swept with excitement as Jack Ma visited DLSU as part of his Manila tour. The Chinese business magnate and co-founder of Alibaba had come to receive an honorary doctorate degree in Technopreneurship from the University. As part of his visit, Ma was invited before an audience of Lasallian students and professors as well as business executives where he shared his personal experiences and brush-ins with success.
The event, organized by the USG and hosted by USG President Mikee De Vega drew hundreds of students to the Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium which had become packed with people by the start of the talk. Function rooms were also set up in Henry Sy building to accommodate students who also wished to hear Ma.
Ma, who is also known for his lectures and business advice, spoke about personal relationships, work ethic, and the importance of remaining imaginative. The billionaire also discussed issues plaguing the e-commerce industry and made comments on the state of the country’s internet accessibility, “I tried to test the speed of Philippine internet last night. It’s no good.” But he emphasized the presence of opportunities for business in the Philippines and urged students to value learning, “Be simple. Stay foolish. No matter what, just continue. Do not complain about others. Complain only about yourself.”
PUSO vs DLSU admin
By the end of 2017, the DLSU administration decided to end a 33-year partnership with DLSU Parents of University Student Organization (PUSO) because of several disagreements in the past. Eventually, PUSO were asked to leave their office, had their benefits removed and were not invited to a meeting of the Multi-Sectoral Consultative Committee on Tuition and Fees (MSCCTF) even if they were the chairman of the said meetings.
Amends were then made and the partnership that both parties claim to have been productive in the past was reestablished. This includes all differences to be settled in a status quo, a withdrawal of PUSO to the objected tuition fee increase of 5.25% by CHED, and the collection of fees between the two parties. The President of PUSO, Atty. Dindo Garciano, assures that there are no changes in the relationship of DLSU and PUSO, remaining independent from the administration and continuing their essential role as the parent organization of DLSU.
New facilities, infrastructural developments
Construction scaffolding and work noise greeted students since the beginning of the school year as several projects as the renovation of facilities remained ongoing. Multiple projects were undertaken to renew and upgrade the University’s facilities, especially with the expected normalization of enrollment rates for college levels.
One of the biggest projects is the now-completed total overhaul of the Br. Connon Hall, home of the offices of the Council of Student Organizations (CSO), University Student Government (USG) and several other University arms. Smaller finished projects include renovations of South Gate and Retreat Center, and deployment of new equipment in the Library Commons. Keeping classrooms up to date with technology were also initiatives with collaborative learning classrooms being launched in Don Enrique T. Yuchengco Hall in mid-March of this year.
The Science and Technology Complex located in Laguna also benefited with several projects to expand their facilities. Current ongoing projects include the Advanced Instrumentation Building dubbed the “Clean Building” and the Central Instrumentation Facility.
Currently, further renovations and facility upgrades are being eyed by campus development officers including the construction of a new multiple storey building which aims to maximize space within the constricted area of the campus.
From the student body
Based on the survey conducted by The LaSallian, the two events that transpired in the run of AY 17-18 which garnered most of the negative feedback from Lasallians proved to be the U-Break shift, and the abolishment of the reimbursement process, with the responses accumulating to 50 percent and 71.2 percent, respectively. The recurring discussion on the dress code in the University was popular among Lasallians, with 57.7 percent expressing dissatisfaction with the current system for the said policy.
Apart from that, 52 percent of the respondents expressed disagreement when asked regarding whether they felt that the University administration heard them out and took action on student concerns throughout the academic year. “I think they’re hearing us out, only to ignore our requests,” expressed Samantha Padilla (III, AB CAM). From a positive point of view, Marco* believes that it is just one of the issues that the University will not be able to accomplish in a span of one academic year. “Generally speaking, I feel that the projects being undertaken is more of a setup for future generations,” stated Marco.
On a lighter note, students perceived the Jack Ma visit, the student and institutional achievements, and the facilities and infrastructural developments in the University to have positive impact to the community. Majority of Lasallians also expressed their satisfaction with the services of University offices through the survey.
*Names changed for anonymity