Two-time BLAZE2022 Batch President Chiki Grijaldo of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) and political newcomer Thea Tolentino of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) contest each other for the presidency of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB). Both wanting better engagements between the Business College Government (BCG) and the students, they admit they have similar priorities but say their exact plans are what set them apart.
On their backgrounds
The LaSallian: For Ms. Grijaldo, would you say being a two-time batch president has prepared you enough to fill bigger shoes as college president (CP)?
Chiki Grijaldo (Santugon): I guess I could say that no one is really fully prepared for a certain position since you wouldn’t know what circumstances may arise once you get there and such. But then being two-time batch president has allowed me to listen to the voices of my batchmates. And with that, me and my batch government, we try to create solutions and be the bridge towards them, ah, between them and the admin as well. So I think that, um, when the time comes, I will be ready and prepared to be college president.
The LaSallian: For Ms. Tolentino, without any experience in the USG, what do you think has prepared you to become college president?
Thea Tolentino (Tapat): Being a student myself—or I would like to call it as [being] an outsider—has really prepared me for this position because if you guys didn’t know, I’m a student athlete, student artist, [and] student volunteer. So somehow I represent those minorities when it comes to the students of [the] College of Business (COB), and I use this as an advantage to connect with them directly and to know what are the main concerns [and] main issues especially [that] we’re in the online setup right now and those are my inspiration to prepare for this position.
The LaSallian: What would you say is the strongest attribute you have that you think will make you a capable CP?
Tolentino: As cliche as it sounds, it’s really the passion to serve and to really connect with the student body, and to represent not only student leaders, but all the students of the College of Business. And I believe it’s my strongest attribute because I know that my platforms do cater to all of the students of the College of Business.
Grijaldo: My answer would be my experience, definitely, since after being in the USG for two years and serving the students of RVRCOB, I’ve seen not only how the BLAZE units works, but they’ve also seen how the BCG works. And we’ve also communicated with the admin already, especially the COB department. So I believe that that is my strongest attribute.
On the status quo
The LaSallian: How would you describe the on-ground situation of students in the College of Business right now.
Grijaldo: So from what I’ve gathered, kasi the students, they would always reach out to us whenever they are experiencing troubles with it comes to their Wi-Fi connection problems or whenever a calamity hits their place. So it can really be said that a lot of students are suffering right now, especially since there are about 5,200 students in RVRCOB. There’s really a difference in what each student experiences, and that’s also why we need to not have a specific priority when it comes to responding to their problems, since we all have to take into account their different experiences.
Tolentino: From connecting [with] most of the College of Business students, one thing is for sure, is that they’re going tired…A lot of students are experiencing burnout already. Some of them are losing their passion to learn and to grow in their certain courses. Some would even say na, “Para pumasa na lang,” or, “Para may mapasa na lang.” And that saddens me so much because the RVRCOB has so much potential and excellence it has to offer for students. And with that, I plan to highlight that present issue within my platforms.
The LaSallian: Speaking of platforms, do you see a need to improve the student services in your college?
Tolentino: Yes, I always see that there’s a room for improvement in [that] aspect, especially when it comes to student services because there’s still a lack of dissemination of information…And of course, with my platform “COB-ing mechanism: Establishing a student welfare committee”, it’s not just assisting the students academically, but moreso assisting them when it comes to their mental health, mental state, and whatever they’re going through right now in their lives.
Grijaldo: I definitely agree with what Thea said wherein there will always be room for improvement, especially when it comes to student services. And actually, there was a BCG student services manual that was already passed in the Legislative Assembly and was already approved, but then it was never really utilized. So this year, we aim to revitalize that as well, and as well as create a more interactive platform for students to reach out to their USG officers when it comes to Student Services.
The LaSallian: What else in the Business College Government do you think needs improvement the most?
Grijaldo: Well, when it comes to the BCG right now, I definitely commend them for all of the efforts that they have done. But I don’t necessarily need to improve something. I feel like I would like to build upon the foundation that has been built. So when it comes to these kinds of things we want to bring, it’s more of bringing back the passion of the students…And I think that that’s something that we need to improve on talaga since as much as BCG tries to create programs that are very inclusive…it’s a matter kasi of how the students respond to those programs…So that’s why we want to create a more personal approach this time.
Tolentino: Yeah, I actually agree with Chiki na we should always improve on student engagement and how participative the College of Business students are when it comes to the programs of BCG…But one thing that I could say that I can improve or I can add is that raising awareness on certain advocacies and initiating student movement, especially when it comes to the upcoming 2022 national elections. So I actually have a platform…it’s called Iboto. This is [about the] opinions of transitioning officials. It’s more on highlighting who are the officials, and especially what are the current takes and stance (sic) when it comes to business [and] business ethic (sic) issues right now in the Philippines, such as contractualization [and] employment and labor rights and policies.
On their plans and priorities
The LaSallian: Suppose that face to face classes do resume sometime in the next academic year? How do you plan to help your constituents in the transition?
Grijaldo: In terms of transition, definitely coordinating with the admin since the COB department has been really accommodating when it comes to concerns like these…So I think that talking with the different departments would definitely help the students in the transition. And also by being consultative and proactive. We need to know what kind of resources the students need. What kind of assistance do we need aside from financial [ones] or when it comes to their gadgets? So I think that that would help a lot.
Tolentino: I would like to say it’s not as easy as going back to school. I mean, you know, as much as we all want to go back to Taft and enjoy the Taft life, I believe that it’s never going to be normal, especially that currently, there’s no certainty whether there would be a cure for COVID-19. Not all students are vaccinated already. So I guess before entertaining the fact that we’re going back to school, first, you have to take into account how ready the students are…It’s all about hearing them out, hearing the College of Business…Kasi we’ve all been used to this setup…and it’s hard. It’s really hard. But then again, it’s all about student engagement—being the bridge between the students and academic department (sic) and even the whole USG Executive Board and the whole administration.
The LaSallian: Now, finally, what is something you will be able to do for your constituents within your first academic term as college president?
Tolentino: Well, first of all, I think the platform that I believe would be prioritized would be the “COB-ing mechanism: Student welfare committee”, which is, again, the establishment of [a] student welfare committee within the college government and, of course, the lower units of the batch government…I believe, through the student welfare committee, it’s about building a strong team within the batch government and in college government and then reaching out to different departments, such as the OCCS or the Office of Career and Counseling Services since I’m pretty much sure there would be a lot of concerns when it comes to mental health…Nandun na din ‘yung academic assistance with the help of the student services committee.
Grijaldo: So, for me, I recognize that all batches have different needs, especially since they have different priorities as well. So for ID 118 and 117 and below, we want to help them when it comes to sending them off to graduation and for stepping into the real world, like giving them a glimpse of adulthood…For ID 119 naman, since all of us are entering the year wherein some of us are already having their OJTs (on the job training), practicums, some are starting their thesis, we want to give them that kind of assistance as well—what resources they need or academic advising that they need when it comes to this. And for 120 and for 121, since we feel like they’re quite detached from the University pa, since they haven’t stepped foot in the University yet, we want to make them feel, and we want to let them know the kind of opportunities DLSU has to offer for them…At the end of the day, all of the batches are here in order to have a conducive learning environment and we want to deliver that to them through our platforms.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.