When the University administration announces the suspension of the submission of academic requirements, students should be able to expect that their deadlines will be moved. But in a few cases, some professors have failed to follow the order, according to their students.
Most recently, during the two-week-long health break last January, a Help Desk Announcement (HDA) from DLSU President Br. Bernard Oca FSC categorically instructed that “all submission deadlines and summative assessments” be rescheduled to at least two weeks later. Yet, for some students, this directive did not automatically take effect as seemingly intended.
Will they, won’t they (move deadlines)
One particular experience was that of Abe* (IV, IME-SM), who observed some problems with the postponement of deadlines in two of his classes. Oca’s announcement meant that there should have been no due dates earlier than January 31. However, Abe’s Supply Management class retained a January 25 submission date for four papers—a clear violation of the directive.
The deadlines for the four writeups were each originally set sometime earlier, he says, but they had to be moved after the start of the health break was announced. Eventually, a new single due date for all outputs was set for the week immediately following the resumption of classes—the 11th week of the term. Abe laments, “Pero still if pagbabasehan natin ‘yung [Oca’s HDA, it] was clearly stated na kailangan lahat ng requirements mamo-move on the 12th week.”
(But still, based on Oca’s HDA, it was clearly stated that all submission of requirements had to be moved to the 12th week.)
Meanwhile, there was a different concern for Abe’s System Dynamics subject. His professor did call off submissions but took days to announce the adjustment to the class formally. All the while, students had to continue working on an output, unsure if the due date for it would actually be moved.
Gian Torres (IV, IE), who took the same subject under the same instructor, relays that this was actually because some of their teacher’s family members fell ill. But to him, the problem is primarily with the fact that students think they have to wait for their professors to say that they will indeed move deadlines explicitly.
“We are scared on our behalf if susundin ba ng profs or hindi [ba nila susundin] ‘yung announcement ng HDA…Siguro, more of it comes from the fear lang ng past experiences na may mga profs [nga] na hindi talaga nagmo-move ng deadlines regardless [of] the announcement galing sa HDA,” explains Torres, who is also a member of his batch government’s student services committee.
(We are scared of whether or not the professors will follow the HDA…Perhaps, more of it comes from the fear from past experiences, where there were professors that really did not move deadlines regardless of an HDA.)
Collaborative yet ‘exclusive’ efforts
University Student Government (USG) Vice President for Internal Affairs Britney Paderes and Engineering College Government (ECG) Student Services Director Miguel Ang admit that their offices have received complaints regarding unmoved deadlines during Independent Learning Weeks (ILW) and University-declared breaks.
With this, Ang explains that complaints are handled by two different USG sectors. Course-specific concerns, such as those that Abe and Torres mentioned, are handled by college presidents along with their student services team. Meanwhile, general education and Lasallian concern subjects are handled by the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA).
Despite efforts from USG, some students still feel that these are not inclusive enough. Abe shares that most of the time, only concerns from those who have connections with seated USG officers are heard. “Ang nangyayari, kung sino lang yung mga magkakasama sa student government, sila sila lang din…hindi nare-reach ng mga USG officers (‘yung other students),” says Abe. With this, Abe calls for a better “sense of leadership” from his college president, looking for the student representation that was promised during the General Elections.
(What happens is that only those who work together in the student government are reached out to.)
Nonetheless, Padres assured that the USG is working with the Vice Chancellor for Academics regarding the professors’ adherence to the academic guidelines in place. Discussions are also in place with the Dean of Student Affairs and the Association of Faculty Educators on the Student Handbook revisions that would institutionalize an improved educational environment for all. A possible course syllabus revision, academic fair, and USG website are also planned for the upcoming term to ensure that the USG meets the needs of the student body.
While concerns prevail, Paderes explains that raising complaints does not necessarily mean that OVPIA is filing for a report, as some professors might have only forgotten to move deadlines but are willing to do so. Instead, informal dialogues between the student and the concerned professor are highly encouraged. Further actions on the matter are only done in cases where professors completely disregard the guidelines, even when reminded to do so.
On the faculty’s end, Department of Decision Sciences and Innovation (DSI) Chair Dr. Manuel Tanpoco and Department of English and Applied Linguistics Vice Chair Dr. Jennifer Tan-de Ramos explain that both of their departments rely on constant reminders. So far, both have not encountered any issues brought to their attention.
When asked about professors that insist on deadlines against University policy, Tan-de Ramos does not think it is not the professors’ call to do so when policies were already set, more so after surveys on the community’s mental and physical state during the spike in cases last January.
In implementing these policies, however, departments cannot monitor professors around the clock. To counter this, departments such as DSI rely on student feedback should professors violate a policy. In these issues, Tanpoco notes that some professors simply forget to change the deadline indicated in AnimoSpace, asserting that this does not mean that professors refuse to move deadlines even when approached on the matter. As a professor, he believes that moving deadlines is understandable given the pressures of online learning and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should deadline policies be violated in courses handled by both aforementioned departments, students can clarify with their professors first. If the issue persists, students can inform their department’s vice chair. Tanpoco also reminds students to send the complete details, including the professor’s name, the course, and which specific class had this problem, so that issues can be solved promptly.
Furthermore, Tanpoco believes that “education is a two-way street,” asserting that professors do not have absolute control over course activities. Students can also work closely with their professors for any concerns and negotiate with their professors whenever they feel that deadlines have been set too tight, he recommends.
“I think it’s time that students realize that this process, this thing called education, is not controlled by faculty members. It’s not just the University alone. It’s not just the faculty members alone. It’s a joint effort, a joint responsibility among the stakeholders,” Tanpoco voices out. Most importantly, a moved deadline also allows students to showcase better what students can do and what they have learned. “I don’t think any professor would not want that,” Tanpoco concludes.
*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms