A first choice

As the new school year kicks in, we don’t even want to remember the last time the halls of the concrete jungle we’ve come to know as our University campus has been this packed. It’s always interesting to see the mix of old and new faces struggling to get on their way, as the new ones look starry-eyed and eager while the old ones look nearly immune to the bedlam.

New student halls in place of old canteens, a recent PAASCU re-accreditation, and several other nonstop new developments all seem very promising. And they should be—after all, our future is supposed to begin here.

Unfortunately, like most things, there seems to be this disconnect between the expectation and reality of the DLSU education, especially when it comes to the people who receive it.

On the surface, one thinks it can equip you with whatever you need for your personal endeavors. It’s aiming to be a world-class research University that produces students who have been molded through proper Lasallian formation and the resolute Expected Lasallian Graduate Attributes across seven impressive colleges anyway, so we could be in good hands.

But if the high security was stripped off and people were allowed to look into the reality inside, they would see an entirely different story.

Students who mull over getting the “easy 4.0” professor, over the “terror” who might give them a lower-than-desired grade but has been known to have the most effective instruction, fees and facilities that are never used because students aren’t aware they are paying for them in the first place, hallways that are getting more and more congested every year, important procedures that remain ambiguous, students who remain mum about an abuse of power felt in their class, problems in the bureaucracy despite the move to provide specialized and distinct ranks and roles. The list could go on, and our new home no longer looks as pretty as the first picture that was painted.

It’s not the University’s fault. In fact, every institution is bound to have its own set of problems that could taint the ideal image it had intended to put out. Execution could be the problem just as much as a lack of concern could have also been the culprit. There are so many things surrounding the University that make it easy for us to dispose of the blame somewhere else that owning up to it would never cross our minds.

On my first day as a student of DLSU, our POLISCI professor asked our class to do the hardest thing at that time: to stand in front of our new blockmates and state our reasons for choosing DLSU. Although we were bashful about admitting our truest and personal reasons, we got it done anyway.

The point of that exercise was probably POLISCI-related because I remember how we segued right after to an introductory lecture of the course. At the time, however, I didn’t understand any of it because I was too fixated on the consensus.

Some chose DLSU because green just flowed through their family’s bloodline—it was imperative they pick DLSU. Others just found the location convenient and logical.  And while a few mentioned they genuinely liked their course and believed DLSU was the right fit for them, most had shyly admitted it was because they didn’t get into their first choice. And after later conversations with fellow froshies roaming around the corridors of Andrew, I realized that these very circumstances were true for a lot of us in the University.

Perhaps it’s because we were never completely sold to the idea of DLSU that we’ve become accustomed to that fact that we, as an institution, might be lacking. And while it’s good to acknowledge that we are, there’s a difference between merely acknowledging and acting on a problem after you’ve identified it. But the culture we’ve allowed ourselves to propagate is being complacent with the happenings in the University, as if we aren’t an essential part of it.

It comes to a point where it no longer is a conversation about apathy—maybe we need to start a conversation on tolerance. If DLSU continues being a second choice, a fallback, then we will never gain the concern that needs to be cultivated to improve as an institution. We need to destroy the tolerant culture that stops us from allowing ourselves to be part of an institution that people generations ago once truly believed was ideal for them.

The least we can ever hope is for the freshmen to continue seeing DLSU as an enduring means and not as a dead end, for them to learn to speak up when something is wrong, to find the initiative to fix something that is ‘broken’ in the system.

The least we can ever do is speak. Because it is when people do not speak that tolerance develops. Conversations about it, about things that need to be made better, need to be revived. Perhaps then, by these conversations, DLSU slowly becomes our first choice.



Martha Elisse Teves

By Martha Elisse Teves

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