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Head On: Alfonso Claros banners ‘better info dissemination’ for ECG presidency campaign

Having gathered unique experiences as 73rd ENG Batch President, Alfonso Claros from Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) bares his plans for better information dissemination within the college, for streamlined systems, and for collaboration with batch government units and engineering student organizations.

On their background

The LaSallian: How has your leadership background and experience convinced you that you are ready for this new role?

Alfonso Claros (Tapat): I was an LA (legislative assembly) representative and a batch president…As an LA representative, ipinaglaban ko ‘yung mga policies na magpapadali ng buhay natin sa…online class…proposals like setting the minimum deadlines of projects, of cases…As batch president…I addressed the biggest problem: thesis. I provided assistance, I made programs [such as] Engineering Thesis 101…I believe those programs, ‘yung mga [policies]…na nagawa ko, [were] a huge success and I want to continue to do those [and] to serve based on the needs of the [students] as the next college president.

The LaSallian: Should your seniority or length of stay in the University be taken into consideration in being selected as the next college president?

Claros: My seniority, I believe is a factor, kasi…naranasan ko ‘yung mga naranasan ng mga third year…‘yung hirap ng finding…opportunities na kailangan namin, the pressure to find good thesis groupmates [and] faculty advisers. I believe that…reaching out…especially to the higher batches…is a factor…Dapat marunong ka mag-emphasize [with] them…But not only [with] the higher batches. I’ve also been a frosh, a sophomore, and I believe those experiences helped me to know what they need…the most para matulungan sila

On student services and initiatives

The LaSallian: Given a number of students are still misinformed or uninformed about enlistment, academic advising, and other student services (SS)-related matters, what do you think is the root problem of these and how do you plan to address them?

Claros: I believe a way para ma-encourage natin ang mga students is better information dissemination…We have the SS Hub, and if utilized well mas maayos ‘yung mga partnerships, mas malalaman ng mga tao…We need publications…[on academic advising]…kung ano ‘yung benefits, kung ano ‘yung mangyayari ‘pag nag-pre-enlist ka, ano nga ba ‘yung purpose of pre-enlistment…On our side, we want to improve…by having centralized avenues of information…by revamping ‘yung ECG (engineering college government) website para nandoon na…‘yung information na kakailanganin mo…We plan to have year-long partnerships with batch governments to ensure na may number of shares ‘yung [bawat] post ng ECG when it comes to SS and makarating sa kada batch ‘yung mga SS concerns and to ensure ‘yung mga pubs ay nakikita ng lahat…ensuring that [the] information na nakukuha ng mga students is from the USG and not from other sources.

The LaSallian: How would you assess the participation of engineering students in online ECG events like ENG Week and how do you plan to improve on this?

Claros: Given that it is an online [event], there [is] a lot less engagement…We should make programs that tackle the needs of the students…kailangan ng someone na magbibigay ng opportunity…There are talks [during] ENG Week but I want to highlight [those] that talk kung paano ka ba sa field…More than just opportunities, we also need…programs…na tutulungan kang i-voice out ‘yung concerns mo with the professors, na tutulungan ka kung kailangan mo ng financial assistance. Lastly, kailangan rin natin as future engineers to be more involved outside of campus. We need more events na mag-propromote ng mga advocacies natin and our SDGs (sustainable development goals) [through a Sustainability Summit]. 

On accomplishing theses online

The LaSallian: Some batches are currently taking or will be taking thesis in the next year. In an online setup, how should these be managed? Should there be adjustments to the final outputs?

Claros: I believe that the problem right now in thesis is that nalilimit [siya] to theoretical [applications] only and walang experimental [phase] na nangyayari and it is a huge problem as future engineers kase when we go to our jobs, we need more hands-on work kung paano nga ba…gumagana ang mga bagay...Once allowed by the government, I would continually lobby for temporary access sa mga laboratories para ma-follow ‘yung mga hands-on [activities], ‘yung mga experimental na thesis. In that way, mas matututo ‘yung mga future engineers natin in La Salle and ma-ensure ‘yung quality education.

The LaSallian: How important is the quality of the thesis output, if asked as a student?

Claros: ‘Yung thesis basically summarizes ‘yung learning ng mga students in their undergraduate life…the quality of the thesis shows your competence—competence ng student, competence ng school, competence ng faculty and it’s really important. 

On their plans and priorities

The LaSallian: What are your prioritized plans for when you get the position you’re vying for and what factors of being a leader and being a Lasallian student engineer were taken into consideration when deciding on these?

Claros: I believe the urgent parts of my platform would be ensuring na every student will have quality educationwe want to ensure the welfare of the students[I] want to have student welfare checks [through the Academic Welfare program] to ensure na bakunado sila lahat. As [a] future engineer…we can push for a process na mapapabilis ‘yung vaccination para mas mabilis tayong makapag-face-to-face classes…We want to provide assistance financially kase ‘di lahat has the privilege to continue their education…We need assistance para ma-voice out ‘yung concerns para malaman ‘yung side ng mga students…to the faculty [through Academic Concerns Forms]…I believe most of these would not be possible if hindi tayo nakipag collaborate well with other organizations—collaboration with the batch governments and collaboration with the engineering organizations. We need good partnerships…We need monthly alignment meetings with them para maavoid ang redundancies and streamlined ‘yung projects.

The LaSallian: What will be your rubric for measuring the effectiveness of your programs or initiatives in this online setup?

Claros: My rubric for measuring…success will  simply [be] sustainability…because we want long term solutions in the future…in the ECG. We can achieve this by making programs…that can make an impact [on] the students…that can affect the students, that are sustainable long term na ma-aapply ng future college presidents, na ma-aapply ng mga students pagtrabaho nila. We plan to have a system na makakaimprove ng communication ng mga students with the faculty. We can have sustainable solutions…by lobbying for limited face-to-face classes para sa engineering students…Lastly, I want to make a system that will establish good relations with other organizations by making monthly meetings with engineering organizations mandatory…I want those programs to carry on for the next college government [and] to the [succeeding] years.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: August 31, 2021

A previous version of the article included answers from a Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon candidate. Following allegations of abusive behavior and sexual assault, the candidate is currently processing the withdrawal of their candidacy. 

By Ramon Castañeda

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