University University Feature

Out with the old, in with the new: A look into Student Handbook revisions

Around a year after the DLSU Student Handbook (SH) was expected to be released, the updated manual has finally been distributed, with the soft copy published on the DLSU website last May 27. With the SH due for revision every three years, its new volume is set to be in use until 2021, replacing the 2015-2018 version.

New provisions

Documents provided to The LaSallian by Dean of Student Affairs Nelca Villarin discuss the latest handbook and enumerate the newly introduced policy revisions. Among the changes highlighted is the University’s compliance with national laws such as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines—which prescribes the proper conduct during flag raising ceremonies—as reflected in a provision on having to give reverence and respect to the country’s national banner and anthem.

The Data Privacy Act of 2012 and the Mental Health Act, meanwhile, prompted an amendment to the handling of cases of students deemed to be dealing with psychological issues; as per the two laws, there will no longer be student and faculty representatives in the committee—which is tasked to recommend remedies to help the student concerned—organized by the student’s Associate Dean.

On student discipline, some revisions affect the procedure of formal hearing on disciplinary cases; this includes the addition of a mediation process and the requirement to submit a written request in order to postpone a hearing. Several other changes are modifications to the dress code, such as the removal of halter tops, racer backs, and “extreme hair colors” from the list of prohibited attires, and the rules on lost or left IDs, for which the number of violations that constitute a minor offense, has been raised. There is also the inclusion of new major offenses such as rape, acts that cause emotional and psychological distress, and cyber crime offenses.

Further, a comparison made by The LaSallian between the new SH and its predecessor reveals that among the changes embedded in the latest version are provisions that guarantee students “the right to be free from discrimination”—one of which specifies the matter to cover prejudice against “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, color, religion, age, physical disability, and mental illness.”

Other revisions include new policy-making bodies wherein students are granted representation. This includes, among others, the Ad hoc Grievance Board, the Drug Testing Selection Committee, and the Student Fees Revision Committee. Meanwhile, other groups, such as the Physical Facilities Committee and the University Scholarship Committee, were removed from this list.

Preparing the SH

According to the primer provided by Villarin, the Student Handbook Revision Committee (SHBR) had voting members composed of students, administrators, and faculty members. Representing the student sector were representatives from the Council of Student Organizations, the University Student Government, and the Law Student Government. Also included in the body were the deans of the Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education, the Gokongwei College of Engineering, and the College of Law (COL), and the associate deans of the College of Computer Studies and COL. Professors, meanwhile, were represented by appointees from the Faculty Association.

On the other hand, the University Legal Counsel, the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO), and the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Engagement acted as consultants to the SH revisions.

The changes to the SH were then approved by the Academics Council, the Administration Council, and the Lasallian Mission Council.

Legislative recommendations

The Legislative Assembly (LA) passed numerous resolutions revising certain policies in the SH, based on the publicized resolutions in their database. Among these were revisions to the dress code and to the policies on ID offenses, eating violations, shifting, approved absences, and accumulation of failures.

Former Chief Legislator Stella Santos recognizes that the SHBR mostly listened to the LA’s recommendations. She, however, adds, “I feel like when it comes to these things, the stake that the student is supposed to have in making decisions isn’t as heavy as it should be.”

She also admits that the committee introduced compromises to the LA’s recommendations. She remarks, “I feel like as far as recommendations go, introducing compromises was mostly trying to just meet halfway so that [the LA and the committee] can agree on what can be passed or to find the most applicable and appropriate rule which is fair for the students.”

School of thought

There are students, however, who say they are unaware of the SH revisions. Martina Madrelejos (II, AB-DSM) recommends that spreading information on the contents of the new version of the SH should be improved. “I believe it should be disseminated better. I still don’t know what the provisions are and what they entail. I’m already [in] my second year and I don’t know [the provisions]—that [is] a problem,” she laments.

Madrelejos goes on to say that she is nonetheless still affected by the changes in the SH, particularly over the possibility of violating a rule she may not be aware of.

Meanwhile, Erika Isidro (IV, AB-DSM) mentions that she was aware of the changes in the SH due to her being a member of  Paragon which is under the SDFO. She goes on to say that SDFO was able to give a preview of it in TREDTWO classes during the Discipline Formation Month. According to Isidro, policy posters were also placed along SJ walk and some of the gates. Despite this, she suggests that despite how the SH revisions are announced to the Lasallian community, students should have an idea of it on their own and that the policy posters should be placed where students can actually see it, “Students should still have the initiative in taking a look at these platforms, but I also think that policy posters could be put in more strategic areas for students to see.”

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