Lauren Morada of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and Hannah Prado of independent coalition PULSO ng Ekonomista (PULSO) go head-to-head on The LaSallian’s questions regarding their plans and goals for the School of Economics (SOE), equipped with their experience as executives of their batch units. As college assembly president hopefuls in the home of Lasallian economists, both offer varying projects that intend to make their college fertile ground for competent policymakers.
The LaSallian: Both of you have held executive positions in your respective batch governments. How do you think this experience has prepared you for a college-wide position?
Lauren Morada (Tapat): As a two-time batch elected [officer], I have seen the in and outs of [SOE]. I have seen various perspectives that led me to prepare myself [for] the position I am running for.
Hannah Prado (PULSO): For me, [back when I was a] frosh, I was elected as a batch president and it helped me [in being] able to know how to do the executive side of the student government. It helped me come up with different activities and be able to handle different committees at the same time. [In] the previous academic year, I was then part of the Student Services and Welfare [Committee] and I believe that it helped me a lot in terms of being able to know talaga kung ano ‘yung kalagayan ng bawat student, kung ano yung mga pangangailangan nila. And I feel like it’s very important that I was able to experience both facets because not only executive side ‘yung naranasan ko kung ‘di ‘yung on-the-ground work mismo na together with the students…to the point na alam ko kung ano ‘yung pulso mismo ng bawat estudyante sa aking batch.
The LaSallian: What is the most pressing issue you have observed in [SOE], and how do you plan to address this?
Prado: In the current times, I believe that it’s really transitioning back to campus, kasi a lot of students, nahihirapan pa rin sila kung paano mag-aadjust, especially since baguhan din naman kasi tayong lahat sa situation na ‘to. And at the same time, [given that we returned to] campus [after] two years, we’re basically put in a new environment…hindi natin sigurado kung ano nga ba ‘yung talagang environment here in Taft.
This is why we want to create an initiative, which we call [SOE Cares], that will help students [to] be able to know more about the situation in Taft and, at the same time, understand kung ano ba ‘yung mga dangers na possible considering the different issues that we’ve been hearing about [such as theft and kidnapping]. Through this project, we want the students to be equipped with not only the knowledge but as well as the skills through workshops to better defend themselves when the time comes. I believe that it would be really helpful for them to be able to have a better grasp of the environment they’re in after being closeted in the four corners of [their] homes.
Morada: One of the most pressing issues here in [SOE] would be the disconnect of the batches. This hinders the connection of the students, may it be [in] asking help for academics or having a friend, basically, in college. So, [I plan] to combat this issue using “Who’s Your IP?: Ideal Pairs”, wherein [we could] create a bond between the batches in terms of acknowledging and relating to their experiences in [SOE].
The LaSallian: Do you have any plans to reform Student Services in your college?
Morada: In terms of reforming student services, I have not planned a specific action. [This is] because the system of student services here in SOE [works]. What I would bring to the table is to amplify and expand the student services because we need to adapt to the transition to the hybrid setup.
Prado: For me, I think that the current student services system in SEG (School of Economics Government) is working naman but at the same time I would want to also be able to expand it in a way that it caters to all aspects and that includes hybrid [learning] as well. That is why one of our foundations for our projects is to make it integrated and inclusive in a way that it [is] able to support the students, and help them be better equipped with the student services that they’ll need during their whole stay in DLSU or in SOE.
The LaSallian: How will you ensure that students are well-informed of your college government’s efforts?
Prado: So for this one we actually have a project that focuses on being able to get the concerns, the collected responses or feedback of the students and we call this [All-Hands SEG]. It has two facets—first is the “SOE Town Hall Meeting” and then the second is “SOE Consolidated Concern Forms”. From this one, we will be creating a consolidated transparency report that will be disseminated or publicized also to the students so that the students [are] able to see their collected responses and at the same time what SEG is doing about it, with the help of different offices and societies.
We want to ensure that [students] feel safe and comfortable approaching their batch representatives and the student government to share with us their concerns…because it is also important na alam natin kung saan or kung ano ang kinabibilangan ng bawat estudyante kasi kung wala din naman sila wala rin naman tayo. And that is the main purpose of being a student government, [which] is to hear out the students, be able to provide platforms for their development and well being and, at the same time, to connect them with our administrations should it be necessary talaga.
Morada: I would propose two things, first is “Bridging Dialogues”, which is concerned with academics…one of the projects under [this] will be town hall sessions that would, first, cater to the transparency report and project updates not just only of SEG but also of the batches and, second, [get] the concerns of the students and relay them to the administration.
Another one is for the student services and that is “One-Stop SEG”. I envision [this] to be a centralized system wherein students will be informed not just of the student services process but also other University events and information.
The LaSallian: Looking back at the past [SEGs], what programs or systems would you like to change or innovate on?
Morada: I have two in my mind…Workshop Weekends and SEGX. Although the [themes] of the two events are still needed by the current SOE students, I would want to amplify it in a sense that I would want [them] to cater to the hybrid setup. In the Workshop Weekends, I would want to partner up with companies that would provide [demonstrations] in a hybrid setup for [students] to acknowledge or enhance…the skills and capabilities that an SOE student shall need. With regards to SEGX, I would want to amplify it by having, if permitted, field trips to the different companies or offices that we would be [partnering with] so that the awareness of the SOE students regarding national issues would be heightened.
Prado: I think that the projects that SEG did in the past are very relevant also to the students. But, perhaps, a project that I would like to bring to the table is “Beyond Corners”. Beyond Corners is one of our initiatives that aims to tackle the economic issues or, basically, real-life issues that the students [are not] able to discuss during class with the professors because we know that professors follow a specific agenda for that session. So through Beyond Corners, we want the students to be able to apply their knowledge and, at the same time, have an exchange of ideas together with professors [and] experts in the field, so that they can learn from one another and be able to, perhaps, identify what they can do even [while they are still] students.
The LaSallian: Being one of the smaller colleges in the University, how will you ensure that SOE will be well-represented in both the USG’s and the DLSU administration’s decision-making?
Prado: I would like to share again—[All-Hands SEG] actually caters to this specific situation. We want to hear the students themselves. We want to encourage them and empower them to share with us their ideas, their thoughts, so that we can better improve our system or our projects and the likes. This is actually something that we also consulted with our dean and associate dean so that we [are] able to raise to the [necessary offices] their specific concerns…through [All-Hands SEG], we really want to ensure that the students are heard and from there we can be able to come up with solutions, analyzing all the consolidated concerns, and be able to come up with projects or solutions that would answer their needs.
Morada: For us to have been well represented…[we can have] more discussions with the different [administrative] offices. To the best of my knowledge, for the past years, the SOE college president is included in the multisectoral discussion with regards to the tuition fee. This heightens the fact that our nature as SOE students is providing research and data-driven policies and proposals. With this, I would want to strengthen the college legislative board so that all policies we would be drafting are catered to the needs of the students.
The LaSallian: For Hannah, do you adhere to your former party’s political views and leadership values, or do you have your own?
Prado: I have my own. During my experience back then, being affiliated with a political party somehow contributed to the difficulty of being able to connect [with] other students who have a different set of beliefs. So, for this time around, I wanted to run [independently] to put forth my personal values and, at the same time, be able to empower other students as well and bring about their personal set of beliefs too so that we can, altogether, [be] able to achieve our great potentials on how we see it fit. And altogether, we can work towards a community that is driven by us students ourselves.
The LaSallian: Have you been mulling this even before your [former] political party decided not to field candidates for this election, or was that move a contributor to your decision to run as an independent candidate?
Prado: It’s more of a challenge when it comes to reaching out to other people who had [a] different set of beliefs. But at the same time, I took it as a challenge talaga. I do understand that not everyone would have the same set of beliefs and that is something that we should embrace…So with regards to your question—if I’ve been mulling about this—personally, I wanted to run independent even before being asked or being invited by [the] political organization to screen. It has been one of my dreams ever since after I became batch president. It has always been not only [to help] students see me for who I really am and for what I truly value, but also it would be really a great opportunity to stand up for those other people who would want to be leaders themselves but are not affiliated with other political organizations.
The LaSallian: Previous SEG presidents have made efforts in making SOE the policy wing or research arm of the USG. Do you have any plans on continuing this initiative?
Morada: I do have plans of continuing this initiative. However, this initiative solely lies on the responsibility of the [SEG], which is to heighten up their legislative assembly board. That’s one thing I would like to continue, which is proving that the college legislative board of SEG has its own capabilities of drafting policies. However, one thing that I would want to push forward is the Policy Camp, which aims for the students to apply their economic learnings into a practical sense by drafting their own policies. And if given enough medium, it could be actualized as well.
Prado: For this one, yes, I do. I would want to continue this initiative because as School of Economics students, we are really well-taught about doing research mismo, given that we have a lot of research papers in our different subjects. So I think that it is something that we can contribute as SOE students to the [USG]. And as we can see, this is also apparent sa mga efforts nga nabanggit na ginagawa na ng SEG from before. One of these is the tuition fee increase, and it’s very important that we take part in these kinds of initiatives because through research we can be able to identify what the community actually needs and be able to come up with solutions or projects that would better cater to the community themselves.
The LaSallian: How do you envision your college by the end of your term?
Prado: At the end of my administration, I envision my college to be driven by the students themselves in a way that the students can come together and lead working towards a better college and, at the same time, nation. I actually really want to see that through our projects created through three foundations that are integrated student support, optimized growth opportunities, and, finally, genuine student representation.
I believe that we can be able to create a community that is very inclusive, well-engaged, and empowered so that the students themselves can actualize their great potential and be able to contribute to their community not only within the University but also outside of DLSU.
Morada: As Lasallian economists, we always thrive to excel in our chosen fields. That is why I envision [an SOE] that forwards excellence. In hopes of actualizing my vision are my three mains pillars: first is cultivating academic competence through projects that heightens the student’s skills and capabilities; second is optimizing their student life, focusing on student support and student welfare; [and] lastly, advancing student participation with our means of conversation towards national issues.
I hope that by my term ends, if given the opportunity, students are well equipped to push excellence whenever and wherever they may be.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.