Understanding the unlimited absence incentive for Dean’s Listers

De La Salle University awards its Dean’s Listers (DL) with many privileges. Aside from receiving a certificate, they are also entitled to advanced enrollment and unlimited absences without receiving a failing mark. The latter can be seen as an opportunity for a DL to mindlessly cut classes without any regard for the professor or for learning itself.


Some statistics

According to the list published by the Office of the University Registrar (OUR), there are a total of 4,531 DLs from all the undergraduate colleges as of First Term of Academic Year 2014-2015. The entire undergraduate population from the same time period is 16,477 students as stated in the university’s website.

Most of the DLs hail from the College of Liberal Arts with 1,596 students while the least is in the School of Economics with 232 students. It is important to note that this is in proportion of the number of students in each college with CLA being the most populous in the University.


By the book

The basis of the unlimited cuts for DLs is found on Section 2.10 of the Student Handbook, which states that “Undergraduate students on the Dean’s Honors List of the preceding trimester are given the privilege of unlimited absences in academic courses during the current trimester.” The provision also furthers that because of this, the DL students cannot receive a failing on the merit of excess absences alone.

However, only academic courses are included in the privilege. As Section 2.10.1 clarifies, non-academic courses such as the National Service Training Program (NSTP), Personal Effectiveness (PERSEF), and Lasallian Recollection (LASARE) subjects are not covered by the unlimited absence incentive.


Behind the benefit

The rationale behind giving unlimited absences to DLs is to provide them an opportunity to excel outside the classroom, explains Dean of Student Affairs Fritzie De Vera. “As DLs, they are also encouraged and are sometimes expected to be involved in other activities – extracurricular, competitions, etc. – that might make them absent from classes. In this case, they are given the privilege to also have a more holistic and balanced student life.”

School of Economics Dean Lawrence Dacuycuy agrees with De Vera’s statement, and furthers that students who end up as Dean’s Listers usually balance academic and extracurricular concerns better compared to regular students.

“If one is really smart, he/she may not need to allocate more time for studying lessons. This frees up time that may be spent for other meaningful activities. In a way, we can interpret the presence of this incentive as a way to improve the time allocation in favor of other activities,” he elaborates.



Despite these, there is a common notion that many DLs are wise enough not to cut in the first place. According to Philosophy Department chair Jeanne Peracullo, most DL students in her class “do not abuse that privilege.” She explains, “In fact, my students who are in the DL are the ones who avail of my perfect attendance award. They are rarely absent; most of them have perfect attendance.”

Peracullo adds that she sees the diligence of DLs. She says, “A lot of things are at stake [when students cut]. [DLs] are very mindful about their standing.” According to her observation, DLs who tend to have the motivation to achieve something higher such as graduation with honors
would not do anything that would affect their goals, such as cutting classes.

Dacuycuy also believes that the incentive mechanism is ineffective in eliciting extra effort on the part of the DLs. “If you say ‘unlimited’, it means that it’s acceptable even if they exceed the prescribed number of absences. But they will not do it because the benefits of minimizing absences outweigh the costs of attending classes.”


Students’ side

For six-time DL Beryl Lao (III, AB-CAM), the advanced enrollment privilege allows her to enroll in classes of certain professors she knows she will learn from. She further explains that having quality professors handle her enrolled courses is enough of an incentive not to cut them.

Four-time DL Alyssa Uy (III, AB-CAM), meanwhile, argues that the unlimited absences privilege should be used responsibly. “I mean you worked hard to be DL, so you might as well enjoy the privileges,” she says.

Isabel Lipa (III, CAM-ADV), also a four-time DL, admits that she would utilize the privilege. She says that being able to have unlimited cuts is useful when she is late for class. Despite that, she acknowledges that it might take a toll on her academics, explaining that “May namimiss ako na classwork and yung grade din sa attendance.”



Some professors also use other means to discourage students from availing the privilege excessively by providing incentives to those, including DLs, who have perfect attendance during the term. For Peracullo and many other professors, this means adding an extra 0.5 in the final grade for those without a single absence or tardy mark, or giving bonus points in a student’s class standing. Many students see this as a deterrent in cutting
classes unnecessarily.

In the end, a DL is afforded the privilege of unlimited absences with the notion that the said student will use it wisely and responsibly as expected of them.

Frank Santiago

By Frank Santiago

Gabriel Hipolito

By Gabriel Hipolito

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