Incumbent and former CATCH22 officers Kate Magbitang and Jolo Cansana from Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon), respectively, discuss the difficulties of shifting to online classes, the use of social media platforms to connect with students, and re-evaluation of student services in the College of Computer Studies.
The LaSallian: What part of your background as a student leader do you think contributes the most to making you a capable college president?
Kate Magbitang (Tapat): Before entering college, I was a musician. I play the violin, so in playing the violin, you learn different lessons. So with those skills…with the discipline that I gained from learning an instrument back in college, it really helped me in being disciplined as well in other aspects.
Jolo Cansana (Santugon): One thing that I really noticed from my years of being in organizations [is that] when I look at problems, I usually look at them [from] different perspectives. So I guess that over the past few years [I] have been growing and growing, [and] that’s something that I can bring to the College of Computer Studies—that part of being meticulous [is] making sure that we are able to identify the root cause.
The LaSallian: Kate, you’re the current batch VP of [CATCH2T22], what are some issues that you observe in your college right now?
Magbitang: One of the issues I see in the college right now is that recently because of the pandemic, there are so many adjustments to our flow charts. So for example, our OJT (on-the-job training) was moved to the last term and at the same time with the changing academic calendar, no one really knows when the deadlines are or what are the most recent updates of different classes.
The LaSallian: Okay, Jolo, you were the former president of [CATCH2T22], would you say that you’re seeing the same issues in your college that Kate has mentioned?
Cansana: I guess, from my personal experience, one big thing is the physical distance between each other. That became a big problem in terms of just communicating with other people. Some other problems that we could focus on also is how we provide the services that the college can provide online, since I think we weren’t really prepared for this pandemic. In just a month, everything closed down, and the entire school went to online mode. So I guess this gave us an opportunity to really reevaluate the student services we are providing and how we can maximize it on an online platform.
The LaSallian: Are you planning to lobby administrators for any sort of academic-related reform for your college?
Magbitang: Yes, I am willing to lobby for academic reform especially that we’re in this new K-12 system as well, so there’s also a lot of changes at the start. It’s good to also hear what the students have to say, especially now that it’s online. There are students here that are really trying to manage their acads talaga. It’s a really good thing if we get to relay to the admins for them to understand what the students are now feeling during this time…so that maybe potentially, there can be changes in how they set deadlines or how much load can be taken per term. It’s those little things that can actually help in the life of a student in CCS.
Cansana: Yes. I think we have to really understand that people are experiencing the pandemic in different ways, and that’s something that the USG should recognize and bring up to the admins. So obviously, we have to make sure that the academic plan that the administrators and the faculty have is inclusive to all of the CCS students. We have to ask the student[s], what do they need and what are the problems they’re seeing right now. From there, we can relay to the administration, and we could find a compromise where all of the proponents or all of the students, faculty, and administration [are] involved.
The LaSallian: Kate, you’ve mentioned that because we’re shifting to online, student services need to be changed. What are your plans for student services reform for your college?
Magbitang: Yeah, recently, we’ve been using a lot of social media, and that’s actually a pretty good tool naman. However, we saw during Typhoon Ulysses, we [were] not sure if different announcements will reach different students, because they don’t have electricity or they do not have Wi-Fi connection. So I plan to have alternative communication channels to widen the reach of different announcements and have more platforms for them to be informed.
The LaSallian: Okay, what about you Jolo? Is it the same case for you—we’re making use of our social media platforms?
Cansana: I agree on that..What we have planned is a re-evaluation of all of the student services that we have and how we can migrate them or how we can put them all on the online platform. The end goal for me when it comes to revamping the student services is that for the following years to come, I want the students of CCS to be able to remember these student services.
The LaSallian: During the online academic year, how do you plan to encourage student utilization of USG services within your college?
Cansana: I think the first step to make them engage with USG services is to inform them that there is [one]. How can we better interact with our constituents and how can our constituents better interact with their government? So by having this two-way platform where discussions between governments [and] students are encouraged, we are also able to insert that, “Hey, there’s also the services that you might need in the future to help you grow as a person.” After that, obviously, we’ll also revamp student services. We have to make sure that it’s inclusive and it is accessible [to] all.
Magbitang: As someone who’s trying to be the next person for the USG, we want projects to be really for the students and at the same time really highlighting how else they can grow, despite the circumstances that it’s online.
The LaSallian: It was mentioned that the OJT for the college has been moved, do you have any plans or any platforms on how students can be informed about how this transition will go?
Magbitang: The way that I plan to go about this is even if our OJT is a bit delayed, it’s not too early for students to start exploring different opportunities. Also, we should at least improve on how we communicate these announcements, especially that it’s online.
Cansana: I agree with Kate also [in that] we have to explore what’s beyond OJT ’cause OJT is the last term, what else can we do? And to add lang to what Kate said, we can also focus on how we can immerse ourselves in the world outside DLSU. I think that’s also an opportunity for us to be able to provide opportunities.
The LaSallian: What is your overall vision for the college and how do you plan to integrate that vision to your platforms and advocacies?
Magbitang: What I envision for my college is a CCS that strives for progressiveness—it’s the college that strives for change. And the way I see this happening is [in] enlightening the students to fight for that change. By being more engaged, more vocal, and having more opportunities to grow, students in CCS can be the future of the industry and this country.
Cansana: I really want to bring this USG closer to all through collaboration. The physical distancing kasi was given as a challenge [in] how can we, even though we’re physically apart, still remain as close as we were when it was still normal. So that’s one thing that I wanted to bring to the USG. First we become more interactive with them, so we ensure that there’s always a platform for them to express their thoughts and there’s a consistent avenue for us to reach out to them. Next, we also want to ensure there’s a strong collaboration between the government and the organizations, because we believe with the organizations, we can do so much more. We can maximize so much more initiatives that the government has with the support of the organizations within CCS.
The LaSallian: Can I just ask you to elaborate on what you meant when you said that you want to be more interactive? Aside from the usual social media, how do you plan to implement this?
Cansana: Well for our college kasi, do you guys know the Discord app? So yeah, it’s widely used in our college. And every time I go on Discord, there’s always a conversation going on. So it was already a clear indication [that] this could be a great platform to communicate with the students and to ensure that even though we’re in our own bedrooms, [it’s like] we’re still in [the] Goks (Gokongwei Hall) lobby.