An outcry of 7,171 students participating in a signature campaign expressing their disapproval of the implementation of the Monday University Break (U Break) starting second term of Academic Year (AY) 2017-2018 did not stop the DLSU administration from carrying out their plans. Yet, the resulting complaints after its implementation eventually forced administrators to reconsider their decision.
In a previous interview with The LaSallian, University Chancellor Br. Bernard Oca FSC credited assessments conducted by members of the University community, especially the University Student Government, in spurring the administration’s final decision to bring the U Break back to Friday.
Nevertheless, this return to the old schedule created a new set of complications. For ID 118 students who have become accustomed to the Monday U Break schedule, the reversal met a more lukewarm reception.
The commute life
Among the concerns raised by ID 118 students in U Break’s return to Friday is the challenge posed by the schedules of Saturday classes and the National Service Training Program (NSTP). Students who reside within the vicinity of Taft Ave. on weekdays are forced to pick between delaying going home on weekends or not going home at all.
This is the concern of Lance Orsos (II, ECE2), who acknowledges the conundrum faced by students required to go to school on Saturdays. Despite that, he prefers the current Friday U Break schedule because of less traffic during Fridays, making his commute back to his home in Las Piñas easier.
Yet, the Monday U Break is not the only factor affecting student commute. Anton Garces (II, ECE2) reasons that even the Friday U Break is not ideal when traveling to and from school, as he quickly becomes tired of commuting during Mondays.
“Friday U Break is not good for me because [on Mondays] traffic is always bad,” he complains.
Yanhan Tan (V, BSA), despite being in his fifth year, acknowledges the problems that future NSTP takers will face, supposing, “It is either balikan sila kaagad for the NSTP or hindi na sila uuwi.”
(It is either they come back immediately [from their homes] for the NSTP or they don’t go home at all.)
USG President Lance Dela Cruz, who served as a Legislative Assembly representative at the height of the U Break debate, recalls student claims of the Monday U Break being more “ideal” when needing to go to school on Saturdays. He cites data gathered by the previous USG regarding the Monday U Break, where 31 percent of the students—who found the aforementioned schedule advantageous—stated that it gave them a long weekend to spend with their family and friends, and a preference to work on Mondays, among others.
Coping with the change
While Tan says that he understands the concerns of students with Saturday classes, he claims that there are more opportunities available on a Friday U Break schedule than a Monday one. Michelle Clemente (VI, POM-BSA) expounds on Tan’s sentiments, claiming, “It’s very rare for people to schedule stuff [from] Saturday to Monday.”
Clemente maintains that while certain students struggle with the NSTP schedule, she reasons students are only required to attend those sessions for a small amount of time.
“Konting tiis lang naman siya,” Clemente suggests.
(You just need a little bit of patience.)
Garces, on the other hand, found adjusting to the Friday U Break very difficult. The change forces him to wake up early in the morning to commute to DLSU due to “lots of passengers already present in both [Manila Light Rail Transit System lines one and two]” during Mondays.
Additionally, Garces says that he is still accustomed to the old Monday U Break. “Every Friday, I tend to always wake up early because I keep on thinking there is school on Friday,” he mentions.
Dalmacito Cordero, an Associate Professor of the Theology and Religious Education Department, shares that he has not experienced any problem with the Friday U Break.“I think it’s very beneficial because we are so tired from Monday to Thursday. And then [on] Friday, it’s time to [take] a long break,” he shares.
Dela Cruz, a firm supporter of the Friday U Break, also stresses the fact that the non-academic weekday is supposed to be dedicated to organizations and extracurricular activities which “help students hone their leadership skills and organizational skills.”
The Monday U Break, he claims, caused a decline in this, resulting in a lack of student organization participation not just from groups under the Council of Student Organizations, but also within the USG and other organizations under the Culture and Arts Office and the Student Media Office.
“A majority of students and student leaders are still supportive of the Friday U Break,” declares Dela Cruz.
The USG President also discloses that the student sentiments he has received regarding U Break go as far back as his time still campaigning for the presidential position. Weighing in on whether the Monday or Friday U Break schedule is better, Dela Cruz chooses the latter, reasoning, “The right thing to do here is to prioritize the welfare of the organizations and the students.”
He argues that most of the student concerns are regarding NSTP sessions, which would only be taken during the last two terms of their first academic year. But he assures that after the sessions of the current freshmen concluded, his administration will look into the general sentiments of the student body and compare it with the previous data they had. Its revisitation will only be confirmed if there are crucial points that need to be addressed.
Mark Mapoy, the Executive Officer of the Office of the Chancellor, also discloses that his office is conducting its very own process in evaluating the impact on student life with the implementation of the new Friday U Break to the implementation of the new Friday U Break.
Like last AY, a major change in the University schedule calls for an evaluation by corresponding University offices and student representatives. The Office of the Chancellor and the USG have both answered the call to action, ensuring they will get to the bottom of student concerns. With the U Break divide mainly being among senior and junior students, the action that may put the most weight into the final decision will be up to the majority of the student body.