A decade since formation, LCSG still hurdled by manpower, decentralization concerns

Concerns over working under Manila-centric systems and with limited manpower continues to exist even a decade after the inception of the Laguna Campus Student Government.

In 2012, DLSU and then-De La Salle Canlubang (DLSC) concerted together a plan to establish the Science and Technology Complex. This joint effort would curb overpopulation concerns in Taft and advance the science and technology field in a new campus.

The DLSU-DLSC merger led to numerous changes in administrative systems, including the integration of the DLSC College Student Council into the University Student Government (USG) to form what is currently known as the Laguna Campus Student Government (LCSG).

The Laguna campus, 11 years later, has gained its own spotlight as an institution, establishing its name in interactive entertainment and gaining cultural significance with Santuario de la Salle. However, the campus still finds itself in the dark in addressing issues and concerns as systems remain focused around Manila.

‘Too interwoven, too divorced’

This centricity—which also applies to its student government—has been a constant concern in the Laguna campus. Academic Year (AY) 2019-2020 LCSG President Miguel Batallones describes the relationship between the two campuses during his administration as “somehow both too interwoven with and too divorced from one another.”

He details that the Laguna campus was treated more as a sub-college than a separate campus, with the LCSG needing to contact professors and faculty in the Manila campus even for Laguna-specific concerns. This communication process between the LCSG and the University administration became a hurdle to them, according to Batallones, as the Manila campus personnel sometimes did not have a full grasp of their campus issues.

Elle Aspilla, LCSG president for AY 2021-2022, also had similar experiences, but this time with the USG. She expresses that they felt excluded even in the policymaking and project creation processes that specifically concern their campus.

“Most of the time during my term, lahat binababa lang sa’min. So, parang wala kami masyadong say on the projects na involved ‘yung Laguna campus and also would affect the Laguna [campus] students… We could have been part of the brainstorming, the planning, para naman merong side ng Laguna campus,” she laments.

(Everything was just disseminated to us as is, so it seemed like we didn’t have much say…so that the Laguna campus could have had a side.)

Additionally, Batallones shares that there had been University-wide resolutions written and enacted for the Manila campus but not for them during his term.

Until now, Laguna campus students feel the imbalance between the two campuses. Leah* (II, BS CS-ST) observes that there is a vast difference in the facilities and resources between the two campuses making it hard for the Laguna campus to have big and known events like those in Manila. Meanwhile, Jessa* (III, BS IET-GD) was concerned about the lack of strict boundaries in the enlistment system as a lot of Manila campus students enroll in classes intended for Laguna campus students.

“I consider it unfair since there are also students coming from Taft who are taking our sections. It limits me and some of my fellow Lasallians on taking the courses we need,” Jessa argues.

Addressing the gaps between the Laguna Campus Student Government and its Manila counterpart remain a work in progress.

Lacking manpower

Just within the Laguna campus, the disconnect between LCSG and its constituents is also a long standing problem. The campus’ small population consistently renders a lack of participation in campus politics among students. Based on data from the DLSU Commission on Elections, there are only around 735 undergraduate students enrolled in the Laguna campus as of Term 1, AY 2022-2023. 

As LCSG president during DLSU’s return to in- person operations, Aspilla expressed that it was hard to identify their constituents at first since they were not given a list of students by the Office of the University Registrar. She also mentioned that since they were just starting to become visible in the Laguna campus, only a few were willing to run for student government. Batallones recounts that in the past, “students were either unaware of such duties or were outright uninterested” in the LCSG.

This reflects in the LCSG’s lack of officers throughout its 10-year history. In AY 2022-2023, the Laguna campus only had one out of the supposed two Legislative Assembly (LA) representatives. Batallones, in his time as LA representative, was also a non-elected appointee. He points out that vacant seats in the LCSG affected their efficiency as the officers and volunteers had to fulfill multiple roles at once. 

The problem still remains, according to current and sole Laguna campus LA Representative Cece Garcia. “The most challenging part is that there is little manpower in the Office of the Legislative Board (OLB), where I find it challenging to maximize the potential of the office. Reviewing legislation and formulating initiatives under the OLB was taxing especially with little manpower,” Garcia bares. 

Fixing the system

Though Aspilla wishes that more student policies were lobbied during her term, she takes pride in initiating a rebuild of the LCSG’s internal systems. The incumbent officers, in their two-term administration, vowed to continue this development. “We decided to focus this year’s term [on] stabilizing and restructuring the LCSG to better accommodate the student body from returning to face-to-face activities,” says Garcia.

Mending Manila-Laguna relations is among LCSG President Angel Lopez and USG President Alex Brotonel’s goals. Brotonel acknowledges the need for decentralization between the two campuses by giving Lopez greater autonomy in leading the Laguna campus. “Mas mabuting nandoon si Angel (Lopez) setting the direction kasi mas kilala niya ‘yung environment [and] mas alam niya ‘yung kailangan ng constituents niya,” Brotonel asserts.

(It’s better to have Angel Lopez setting the direction because she’s familiar with the environment and she knows what her constituents need.)

The LaSallian contacted incumbent LCSG President Angel Lopez for her sentiments but was not able to receive a response.

Despite this, the USG president clarifies that there are still projects that will be extended to the Laguna campus such as the provision of free sanitary napkins and the food pantry once sufficient funds and resources have been procured.

Regarding student services, Leah shares, “Mabilis po talagang mag-respond ‘yung LCSG, and they’re very active when it comes to hearing out concerns.” She hopes that the next batch of LCSG officers will remain proactive in catering to the needs of the Laguna campus community.

(The LCSG responds quickly.)

As the Laguna campus population continues its growth, past LCSG presidents hope that their students become more involved in pushing for a better Laguna campus. “I am quite glad that there are more students in the campus after all these years,” expresses Batallones, “I have hope in these younger students, and so far, it is hope unwasted.” 

*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms

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