DLSU has released its official response following a statement made by TEDxDLSU organizers earlier this month regarding the cancellation of the January 2016 event.
In its official statement, the University maintained that while the free exchange of ideas in the academic community is encouraged, next year’s TEDxDLSU event was cancelled because it was being organized by a former employee without permission or clearance to use DLSU’s name.
As the TEDxDLSU statement circulated on social media channels, members of the community were quick to comment on the issue and even went on to discredit DLSU for disallowing the organizers to stage the event, arguing that the University was suppressing learning while distrusting student-organized activities, among others. As a result, the University’s Office for Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) was especially targeted because of the said statement. The TEDxDLSU Facebook page has since then been taken down.
On licenses and trademarks
TEDx events typically showcase live talks as well as videos of previous TED conferences and named using “location-based descriptors.” According to the TED website, university events such as TEDxDLSU must have the permission of the institution to host the event as well as to use its name before applying for the license needed to register a TEDx event. The license is only valid for a year.
After the first TEDxDLSU conference was held on January 23 this year, the license was renewed in March in preparation for the 2016 event. The license was later revoked in November by TED after STRATCOM’s non-authorization of the use of DLSU trademarks because it was not being endorsed by any DLSU office or organization. Joanna Queddeng, lead curator for TEDxDLSU, resigned from her post under the Student Media Office earlier this year.
“Ang hirap lang kapag walang attached organization. Hindi kasi mamo-monitor ng University nang maayos dahil walang accountable sa’yo if you’re an individual,” shares STRATCOM Director for Operations Johannes Badillo. He recalls specifically advising the TEDxDLSU organizers to partner with a student organization in order for the event to push through.
According to a TEDxDLSU representative who requested to remain anonymous, the organizers went on to partner with the De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA). However, Badillo and STRATCOM Internal Marketing and Merchandise Coordinator Jill Legaspi both state that when they consulted DLSAA President Dr. Derrick Yu about the said partnership, Dr. Yu expressed that “he did not make any commitments yet.”
In addition, while DLSAA is based in DLSU, it is still considered an external organization and is therefore not authorized to use the DLSU trademark.
A student opportunity
Badillo clarifies that the license was asked to be revoked only because the endeavor was being headed by an individual who “does not represent a legitimate office or unit” of DLSU. “Not because we don’t want to deal with students,” Badillo emphasizes, alluding to rumors that STRATCOM did not approve the use of trademarks because the office wanted to host the event on their own.
“In fact, we want students to do it,” comments Legaspi. “This is a good student opportunity more than anything.”
Badillo also finds no truth in rumors that STRATCOM was after hosting the event because it involved a large sum of money. P200,000 was reportedly allocated for the first TEDxDLSU event.
“There was even a directive from Br. Dennis [Magbanua] back then to coordinate with STRATCOM because they’re giving budget [for the project],” remarks Legaspi. She shares that there are currently plans of establishing TEDxDLSU at an institutional level, but details on when and under which office it will be established have yet to be finalized.
“STRATCOM has always been collaborative in all our initiatives. This is a university and discussions of issues through various fora are always encouraged,” Badillo stresses, “but if you’re going to hold an event, you should be authorized to hold it.”
“In the proper way, the right protocol, the right permission,” Legaspi adds.
As of press time, the most recent step the organizers have taken to resolve the issue is to send a two-page complaint to the Office of the President and Chancellor.
The official statement of the University about the TEDxDLSU issue:
De La Salle University encourages the free exchange of ideas in the academic community through the holding of various fora and seminars.
The University however, does not allow any individual or group who is not connected with DLSU or any of its offices or units to organize an activity that will use the University’s name (including trademarks) and leverage on the reputation of the institution without its permission.
It has come to the attention of DLSU that a former employee entered into a transaction to organize the TEDxDLSU event without the permission or clearance from the university.
DLSU has notified the TEDx main office about TEDxDLSU, and their administration team has taken appropriate actions to address the matter.