Incumbent Majority Floor Leader Maegan Ragudo from Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and former director for Research and Development for the Office of Vice President for External Affairs (OVPEA) JM Gutierrez from Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) share their leadership philosophies, stances on University and national issues, and their priority platforms as they vie for the University Student Government (USG) presidency.
On their background
The LaSallian: How prepared are you to handle the highest position in the University Student Government given your past leadership experience?
Maegan Ragudo (Tapat): Given my experience as FAST2018 LA Representative and the Majority Floor Leader of the Legislative Assembly, I was able to lobby for key University policies such as safe spaces and mental health…And on top of that, my experience overall with collaborating with the administrators, and at the same time with ensuring that the best interests of the student body is (sic) forwarded through policies. I know I am capable of, hopefully, running the highest office in the USG.
JM Gutierrez (Santugon): I’ve been in multiple, across multiple organizations. I’ve also been part of my batch government, my college government, and a member of and the director of the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs. I’ve been really proud of the work that we’ve been doing in OVPEA in the past two years already. The biggest achievement that I garnered there was being able to spearhead the project of reimagining Manila, in terms of commuters and…voter’s registration.
The LaSallian: Are you satisfied with the work you have done so far in your current USG position?
Gutierrez: Currently, I am satisfied. But I know that I can do way better and improve upon these coming terms and academic year.
Ragudo: I’m satisfied with the work but I know, I can do and offer so much more given the situation we’re in…a lot of students need the assurance that they can continue studying amidst the struggling times.
The LaSallian: Do you have a leadership philosophy?
Ragudo: My leadership philosophy would mainly be to forward the best interests of the student body…We immerse ourselves, we collaborate, we ignite the grassroots movement, bottom-top approach. Why? Because at the end of the day, ‘yung concerns ng students, especially the minority sectors, ‘yung hindi napapakinggan, the vulnerable ones. That’s why it’s of utmost importance that we make sure their voices are heard, and we make sure that their concerns are addressed…by the highest representative body in De La Salle University.
Gutierrez: For me, I believe that great leaders always lead from up front and never from behind. This will allow leaders to be empowering other leaders for the future generations. I know that for a fact, there are so many people out there who would want to volunteer and make sacrifices for other people. And these are the people who we should empower and provide the opportunity to help other people because these kinds of leaders provide and create other leaders that will help the country and our University in the future.
On the status quo
The LaSallian: What can you say of the way the University administration makes decisions that greatly affect the student body?
Gutierrez: I believe that the administration has their own reasons for pushing for these types of plans and solutions for the current issues that we are currently facing. And I believe, with consultation and proper student representation, we can be able to move forward and have a common ground between these issues.
Ragudo: Since I’ve been a part of the lobbying petitions for, especially for academic policies, I’ve seen how the administration decides based on data, based on research. And knowing that this is how they respond, or this is how they decide, it’s of utmost importance that we let them know the importance of student sentiments, of students’ situations and concerns. This is why I will be pushing for a more collaborative approach between the USG and the administration, if nagawa siya during Lance’s administration, we’ll do it even better.
The LaSallian: What currently relevant matters are not given enough attention by the USG?
Ragudo: Siguro I would have to say we’re lacking in terms of the advocacy of the USG, but not severely lacking. So, my point is that there’s so much more that the USG can do especially in ensuring that our advocacies and national affairs is (sic) in line with the student body’s sentiments.
Gutierrez: It is the fact that students are feeling disconnected and helpless with the current situation that we are all facing today. It is apparent that the current pandemic has disoriented the whole student body. And this has really affected how the experience of being a Lasallian really impacted these students to be able to actually create an impact in the world.
On their plans and priorities
The LaSallian: What is the first issue that you are going to address when in office?
Gutierrez: The first issue that I will be addressing is the learning experience of our students. I believe that by enhancing these learning experiences, they will be true champions of the Lasallian experience. And for the [ID] 120s and those who are graduating, I believe that we can do something and we can do a better job in helping them cope with the current situation that we are all facing today. And with proper governance, we can surely provide them the Lasallian experience that they really, really dreamed of and hope to achieve.
Ragudo: So the first thing I will be doing when in office is to secure the future of our education. We all know how it is very threatened to this day. An example will be the cases of auto drops, or yung students na nafoforce na mag-leave of absence, and we all know that this is a result of poor academic policies and not enough collaboration and reimagining. That’s why when I’m in office, I will be proposing for a curriculum shift, and at the same time, offering alternative modalities of learning so that students can continue learning whatever their circumstances may be.
The LaSallian: What do you think you will be able to achieve within your first term in office?
Ragudo: Siguro ‘no, the first thing that I will be able to achieve, that I hope to achieve in the first term of my administration, would be to ensure that we start the lobbying for our key policy proposals. So this includes the curriculum reimagining that I’ve mentioned earlier, and this also includes investing in the student body. So by investing in the student body, we ensure that they also get to live the Lasallian experience that they’ve been missing during this online setup. So if first, we secure the future of education, then we invest in the student body, and I will begin that in the first term of my administration.
Gutierrez: [On] my first term of administration alongside Noel (Gatchalian) and Earl(rich Ibon), we will be providing not just opportunities for these students but also policies that will cater to them and help them improve their online learning experience in the University. This is important to me because as a Lasallian, we are an (sic) achiever for God and country. And before we become an achiever for God and our country, we must first focus on within and internally.
The LaSallian: With the online setting, how will you ensure that your USG can still authentically represent the voices of the Lasallian body?
Ragudo: One of the first things that I would really want to do under this administration is to foster a collaboration between all sectors of the University. That’s why we have plans to ensure that all sectors of students are well-accounted for. So how do we do that? We ensure na their voices are heard through continuous checking, accounting for through our student census, and then eventually we ensure that their voices are heard when we get to lobby these policies with the admin.
Gutierrez: During my administration, I will be collaborating with other student leaders from the top universities around Metro Manila, and I will also be collaborating with the different sectors of our DLSU community. This is to ensure sure that the students have proper representation and so that they can be, we can have concrete solutions from internal and outside of DLSU.
The LaSallian: What is student representation?
Gutierrez: A student representation puts into the core of a consultative…leadership. That brand of leadership does not just go on and attack the issues and problems at hand. We must first realize and reassess these issues that we are tackling and approach them in a manner that we would be efficient enough to solve with proper solutions and concrete solutions.
Ragudo: Student representation is ensuring that every Lasallian can continue studying. Student representation is ensuring na hindi tayo mahihirapan with our students’ fees, that we can continue studying despite the ever-increasing fees. Student representation is ensuring that student orgs get to do their org activities, get to live the full Lasallian experience despite our times. Student representation, in a nutshell, is ensuring that despite the circumstances, despite the pandemic, we still give them a University that they can call theirs.