Head to Head: Cher Asenci, Annika Subido share visions toward student-centered SOE

SEG presidential candidates Annika Subido of Tapat and Cher Asenci of Santugon wish to uphold the SOE’s excellence by addressing the disconnection of the student body.

School of Economics Government (SEG) presidentiables, EXCEL2024 Batch President Annika Subido of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and SEG Director for Student Services Cher Asenci of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) face off against each other as they share their insights and plans regarding the main issues, hardships, and future of the School of Economics (SOE). 

The LaSallian: What do you think is a trait that you possess that is especially and uniquely needed for someone leading the SOE?

Cher Asenci (Santugon): Personally, one trait is being involved. Since [being a] frosh, I was [a] co-director for student services under EXCEL2024. For the second year, I was the director for student services in the SEG. In such a way, I’m very exposed to the grassroots struggles of students in SOE. Basically, the problem is not really related to student services. [Academics is] hard in SOE, so we must make the community engaging and foster collaboration with the department [and] with [the] people in SOE in all batches. That is why my vision is realizing an excellent identity toward an engaged community since the Department of Economics is really…proactive and all we need to do is engage among batches so that we will be able to know what are the other aspects pa na puwede pang pagtuunan ng pansin ng SEG.

Annika Subido (Tapat): Genuineness. SOE is a small college and we really want to maintain that tight-knit community within the college.  You can’t achieve that without genuineness—without genuine representation, without genuine leadership. Everything that I will do as college president will be rooted in my genuine passion for service [to] the students of SOE. I really want to give projects that I know will be able to cater to their needs, that I know will come from my consultations with students themselves and the involved parties. Genuineness is at the root of leadership here in SOE because we all know each other. We all know the needs [and] concerns of one another, so it’s important that we maintain that genuineness in order for us to go beyond expectations [and] challenge what we’re already used to right now. That’s why my vision is for an SOE that goes beyond.

The LaSallian: What do you think is the biggest problem that the student body of SOE is facing? What are your plans regarding this?

Subido: The most pressing issue right now in SOE is the obvious disconnect between the different batches and the different bigger parties here in SOE, then the USG, the department, [and] our home organization. It’s important that we build this relationship so that we can work on projects together that will be able to cater to [the students’] needs. Furthermore, it’s important that we build rapport between the batches and build those meaningful relationships between students knowing that students have that backbone or have the support of their fellow SOE students. 

Asenci: The most pressing issue in SOE is the lack of engagement. All I can see in our college is that the Department of Economics is really reaching out to all students [by] implementing curriculum reviews [and] different types of seminars that will enhance the economic knowledge of students in SOE. What really is lacking is the engagement from each batch, and I can really see that each student [is] really having a hard time when it comes to their academics. That is why from my experience mismo, maraming students ang nagshift-out from SOE. We acknowledge that there [are] no easy programs in college, but what we can do as leaders is to make the environment more engaging [and] collaborative, wherein each student will be able to know or have this sense of belongingness especially in SOE, considering that we uphold the values of excellence. Yes, we are excellent, but internally, if we don’t have any engagement, what we can offer to the students in SOE will not have long-lasting impact in our society, not even in our University.

The LaSallian: SOE had the lowest final preenlistment rate last September despite being one of the smallest colleges in the University. Why do you think this is the case, and how do you plan to address it?

Asenci: As the director for student services in the SEG, we have seen the lack of engagement from the students especially when it comes to enlistment. First, we really need to look into the problem [of] why they are not motivated enough to preenlist, since we know that preenlistment only guarantees enlistment privileges or having a slot during the enlistment period. Other than that, we must let them understand kung ano ba talaga ‘yung benefit nito sa kanila as students. Basically, what we can offer here is not just to seek their concerns or problems during preenlistment, but also [to open] the platform for them to be able to give suggestions on how we can really motivate students to preenlist. 

Subido: As EXCEL 2024’s batch president, I take pride knowing that the batch has the highest turnouts in the college. This is because we focus on information dissemination in the batch, ensuring that the batch is well-informed of the different processes [and] deadlines. This is done through constant communication, announcements, and keeping tabs [on] the students themselves—messaging them directly, ensuring that students know that there are people they can message when there are sudden updates [and] concerns. This is what I want to expand into a college-wide initiative. I want to deal with the information asymmetry here in SOE na iba’t-ibang impormasyon ang [naipararating] sa iba’t-ibang batches…As your SEG, it is important that we make sure that all batches have the same information, receive the same quality of announcements, and are well-informed of the different deadlines [and] different processes they must know so that they can preenlist. 

The LaSallian: One of the criticisms toward SOE is that Lasallian economists are usually not seen to be involved with the public economic discourse. What are your thoughts on this? And how do you plan to bridge this gap between the school and the rest of society?

Subido: One of our goals is really bridging theory and reality. We want to be able to apply what we learned inside the classroom into what we see in the real world. We want to be able to allow SOE students the opportunity to see what they’re learning and how this applies to national [and] international affairs. Another project of mine is “Ideation Camp” where we actually want to spur a collaborative research community, na you are given opportunities to tackle issues through your research [and] papers so that you can present this in [the] biggest forums…The kind of environment we want to build for every SOE student [is one where] alam mo yung natutunan mo dito sa SOE, kaya mong i-apply [and] gamitin para [makatulong] sa mas malalaki pang [mga] diskurso, lalong-lalo na ‘yung mga nakikita nating economic issues ngayon.

Asenci: As SOE, we are known to be the college of excellence. So, para sa’kin, yung culture of excellence, dapat hindi lang nag-ii-stay inside the classroom. That is why I have a project called “The SOEcial Impact”, wherein students will be able to have  knowledge about the volunteer opportunities around them [and] information on how to start a volunteer organization. Aside from that, I want to focus also [on] helping and being part of solving the sustainable development goals. When it comes to national affairs, I have this project in partnership with NEDA. It is a case competition, so economics students will be able to apply their research skills and their existing thesis works. Basically, we’ll be able to provide an opportunity for SOE students to take part [in] this event [and] be able to give resolutions to the real economic challenges in our country. 

The LaSallian: What long-term cultural or systematic development within the SOE student body do you want your leadership to bring?

Asenci: I want to provide a sense of support to each student, [both] current [and] future students of SOE, when it comes to their student services since I have seen the big number of those students na nagshi-shift out talaga ng SOE. I feel sad for these situations since these students, maybe wala talaga silang sense of belongingness. Parang naiisip nila na they don’t have someone that they can really lean on or like a support system. For me, I really want to solve that issue since ayaw ko naman na parang ‘di nila alam what they got themselves into…With that kind of help, I will be able to impart with the students the significance of being an SOE student, na hindi lang tayo sabi nang sabi ng “culture of excellence.” Yes, we’re upholding it, but we must be in action, and being in action also involves knowing your real purpose so that you will be able to empower other people as well [and] altogether, contribute significantly to our country. 

Subido: My vision is an SOE that goes beyond expectations [and] challenges the limits. Matagal na tayong tinatawag na “school of excellence” [and] “college of excellence.” I think it’s high time we go beyond just our definition of excellence. All my platforms, from college-level [to] batch-level, are based on three thrusts. The first is going beyond just your everyday student life. ‘Yung nakasanayan nating buhay dito sa SOE, mas gusto nating gawing well-supported [and] engaging for the students para nakikita naman nila na it’s not just…hard academics here in SOE. There is more to it. We have impact and we have an engaging student life. Second is going beyond just standard education. ‘Yung nakasanayan natin [na] natututo tayo sa lectures [at] sa loob ng isang classroom, ilalabas natin ‘yon. Mas gusto natin na natututo tayo by experience [and] engagement. Huli, going beyond conventional solutions. Hindi sapat ang mga awareness campaign o mga seminar lamang para lang ma-inform ang SOE students kung ano ang iba’t-ibang national issues. Importante na nabibigyan sila ng immersive experience [and] external opportunities, like meeting students from other universities or even tackling the future for them. All in all, the leadership that I want to bring here in SOE is a sustainable one, something that will allow [us] to go beyond what we’re used to now, and continue moving that path after my term. 

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Dave Russel Ramos

By Dave Russel Ramos

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