Having extensive experience under the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA) and in student services, VPIA Officer in Charge (OIC) Ashley Francisco of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) and Executive Director for Student Support Hannah Teng of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) seek to bridge the gap between the student body and the DLSU administration through streamlining communications and lobbying for more student-centered initiatives.
The LaSallian: As you are running for a position that oversees the welfare of students within the Lasallian community, how do you envision a student-centered USG?
Hannah Teng (Tapat): In the OVPIA, it should be collaborative [and] communication should be streamlined. Together, it will promote cohesiveness in the office. Very systematic kasi ‘yung trabaho in OVPIA, and with that system in place in the office, it will be streamlined across the colleges, batches, and eventually, to the student body.
Ashley Francisco (Santugon): One of our brands of leadership in Santugon that I want to uphold as a student leader is being proactive. Personally, I advocate for continuously fighting [for] the students’ rights and welfare.
[Also,] being consultative not just to the students but to [all] student sectors by maximizing all means and avenues to communicate with students—[both] physical [and] online—[and] to our admin offices, especially the Council of University Representatives (CURE), since currently, OVPIA has more than five seats with our administration, and kasama doon ang Campus Services Committee that handles [our] canteen, transportation services, and physical facilities.
Lastly, responsive and not reactive. If there are student concerns that we receive, we should gauge whether the information we’re going to provide to the student body is already enough, or we should consult with the admin to give them a comprehensive guide.
The LaSallian: What lapses, if any, have you observed when you worked under OVPIA, and how will you address these?
Francisco: There are a lot of issues that are still yet to be addressed. One would be the evident disconnect between the admin and the student body…Until now, wala pa ring [masyadong] transparency from our administration. Nakikita naman natin ‘yun sa cybersecurity incidents here in the University.
The evident lack of learning spaces [is] something that we plan to address by coordinating with BGMO’s (Building and Grounds Maintenance Office) Physical Facilities Committee para we can strategically look into specific corners and bases here in DLSU that we can open to students by adding more tables and chairs [and] making resources more accessible both online and offline.
The main lapse of the OVPIA [is] with the confusion of our available resources. What we want to do is to integrate everything into one consolidated platform, which is the USG website, USG Canvas button, and USG Canvas module. One of my projects is “EmpowerED,” which is [a] student resources network wherein we aim to make academic resources accessible through Canvas in partnership with the University Library…and to improve our student community by having a discussion space or forum there, wherein students can freely communicate and share their learning materials.
Teng: OVPIA is basically the bridge [between] the students [and] the admin. First, there is a disconnect kasi admin gives the information, OVPIA organizes this information and cascades it down to colleges and batches. It would be very beneficial if mas may connection ‘yung OVPIA, apart from the admin, to the colleges and batches. Dapat well-rounded siya.
The population in DLSU is at [an all-time] high. The campus, compared to other universities, hindi naman siya gano’n kalaki. One of the platforms of the executive board is to lobby for additional 24/6 Learning Spaces. There are areas, lalo na in older buildings like LS (St. La Salle Hall), na may low zones or little to no signal of Wi-Fi. One of our platforms [is] to expand our accessibility to [the] campus WiFi.
There are a lot of deadlines, and as students, hindi natin mapagkakaila na minsan, makakalimutan natin ‘yung deadlines na ‘yan. One of [our] projects is having a Canvas-integrated system wherein the University process deadlines such as preenlistment, enlistment, [and] mandatory confirmation of enrollment will be integrated [with] our Canvas to-do list. Another [platform would be] the activation of the PA (public announcement) systems that we have on campus para passively lang siya naririnig ng mga estudyante [and] TVs na we can mount sa entrances [that] will show [deadlines]. It’s really important to be proactive in having these deadlines stick with the students [and] to adapt to the current situation of the University.
The LaSallian: How can your experiences contribute to your plans as candidates for VPIA?
Teng: [Since I was] a frosh, I [have been] involved in Human Resources under the Office of the Executive Secretary (OSEC), and that made me experience the internal [operations] of the USG. Eventually, I joined [and] found my love in Student Services, so I became an executive and the vice chairperson for student services in FAST2021. I became the liaison between my batchmates [and] my college president, [and] the representative of these student concerns.
Eventually, on a University-wide scale, I explored Student Support, [which] is more on implementing projects. My experiences in the USG and as a student myself made me connected to the students, [especially] hearing from my batchmates being the batch representative that time, answering student concerns all the way up to the University level, where I could bring up these “little problems” that we have and also personal concerns na na-experience talaga ng mga estudyante.
Francisco: I was offered to run as a batch legislator [in my frosh year], so [since then] my USG background is more on the legislation side. I’ve also explored other organizations [within] the University. I want to give a holistic approach [in serving] the students, so I explored operations, documentation, partnerships, activities and advocacies, [and] human resources. Kung anumang problema ng mga estudyante, gusto ko lahat ko mata-tackle ko at matutulungan ko sila.
As a batch legislator, I am advocating and more focused [on the] sustainability of these projects [that are] supported by policies. Along with my executive board, we agreed that in all of our EB offices, each of us will have student services representatives and streamlined student services workshops that are not only limited to the OVPIA Student Services teams but also to the colleges and batches.
I think that I am well-rounded and capable for this position, given that I do not just have [the] perspective of someone from a batch representative but I also work with our college, and now at the university level.
The LaSallian: Former VPIA Janine Siy’s plans focused on enhancing the preenlistment experience for students. What student-related issue do you aim to prioritize as VPIA?
Francisco: [The project that] I would like to highlight is the “Green Light Central Program” since this is a transportation focus initiative. We plan to give commuter links and information more accessible to our fellow Lasallian commuters and those who are interested in commuting. [We will be] creating a transportation space [that] will serve as a community forum for Lasallian commuters [to] share information about transportation. We will also be reviewing the current University policy on the parking process [and the] expansion of offsite parking spaces for those with private vehicles. We will be looking into the expansion of our P2P (point-to-point) and Arrows Express services for the students, [providing] a grant and subsidy for those who cannot afford it.
Next would be the “EmpowerED: Student Resources Network,” [where] we will be looking into lobbying for a student class accommodation form. The mandate would be for all of the professors at the start of the term. Students are required to answer this assignment on Canvas, wherein they can detail their preferred learning experience. This has actually [been] consulted already with offices such as ASIST (Academic Support for Instructional Services and Technology), OCCS (Office of Counseling and Career Services), ITS (Information and Technology Services), and they have supported this. I’m planning to work hand-in-hand with these offices to ensure that we get to protect the data privacy of the students. We will be having an edu-access learning resources hub, [which] will be in close partnership with the University Library. LS Links, e-books resources, the list of institutionalized email perks that we have, the community forum for students to share their learning materials, and so much more will be integrated.
Teng: Our goal is to have an uplifted Lasallian experience, and for that, we have four Es: expanded, engaging, enriching, and enhanced. We want to have a Canvas-integrated system wherein students can easily look at the deadlines of the University processes para in this case, hindi na siya makakalimutan [to have a] higher preenlistment turnout.
Apart from this, we also want an enriched student life. We want to empower our student sectors: our LGBTQIA+ community [and] our students with disabilities. Among our platforms [are integrating] a designated [study] space for students with disabilities, reinforcing the existing 10-percent tuition fee discount, and lobbying further [the] PWD discounts in our concessionaires in school. For our gender-specific sector, we want to have a University-wide elective for queer research [and] for queer literature.
One of the things that we also want to lobby for is the free printing of DL (dean’s lister) certificates at the end of every term kasi compared to the other universities, our students do not really get the recognition they deserve at the end of every term. Our goal talaga is to empower the different student sectors that we have in DLSU kasi we really have a diverse set of students.
The LaSallian: What are your plans to ensure that all student services and administrative concerns from all colleges and batches are being received and addressed by OVPIA?
Teng: It’s really important to empower the batch [and] college units kasi sila talaga ‘yung nasa forefront of the students. Usually, [our] process for student concerns is [that] batch units would receive [them first and] if hindi masagot, it will be brought up to the colleges, and then to OVPIA. I think it’s really important to have a centralized and streamlined process of communication with the admin, OVPIA, colleges, and batches [so] it would be more organized and cohesive.
Francisco: We have this project called the “iNeed Assist Program.” We will be institutionalizing having university-wide concerns protocols not only coming from the USG but also [from] our admin offices. This is something that I have also lobbied already as incumbent OIC VPIA to the ITS, which they accepted already. Hopefully, this is something that can also be streamlined to our other offices here in DLSU.
We will also be lobbying for having a concierge live assistance desk to encourage students to visit a long-term physical assistance desk, besides the preenlistment [and] enlistment Student Services booth that we have.
We will also be revitalizing our Student Services buddy since there are students who prefer having one person only that they can approach. We will be cascading [a] form asking students how they want to receive the different announcements from the USG…whichever platform they prefer.
Lastly, we have a project called the “Integrated Information Space,” which is mainly focused [on] the USG website. We also want to integrate a Canvas USG module, where all of the resources and information can be accessed [and] HDAs (help desk announcements) that are pertinent per ID number can [be] viewed there. This has already been communicated and well-consulted with ITS and ASIST.
The LaSallian: What plans do you have to further involve batch and college governments in USG initiatives beyond enlistment and administrative processing concerns?
Francisco: The OVPIA is the chair of the Activities Assembly (AA) of the USG and that is something that I would want to improve more on. Sometimes, hindi natin naiiwasan [na] similar ang mga batch, college, and university-wide events, pero isa lang ang goal ng projects na ‘to, which is makarating sa mga estudyante. What we want [to do] is to streamline these events by utilizing our Activities Assembly.
I will be working hand in hand with the Legislative Assembly in revamping and reviewing [the CURE manual] since it was last updated [in] 2014. It’s very vital given that four of the EB offices, namely OPRES, OVPIA, OTREAS (Office of the Executive Treasurer), and OVPEA (Office of the Vice President for External Affairs) [have] seats in committees and councils where the admin is. This way, we can…fulfill our promises [to] the students [and] be their bridge to the administration.
Teng: Right now, the AA is ineffective, based on college and batch presidents…in a sense na hindi nade-deliver ‘yung projects or policies that they’ve been planning together. I plan to focus on enhancing the operations and logistics of the Activities Assembly and maximizing its supposed function in the USG. My plan is to treat it as if it’s a unit itself…to have a well-rounded consensus when it comes to USG projects [and] policies.
Reinforcing ‘yung streamline and collaborative communication na we should be having internally—those are the main points na I plan to do when seated as the VPIA to ensure that all USG units that will be closely coordinating with VPIA would be handled properly.
The LaSallian: How will you make administrative processes easier for students should the data security incident remain unresolved once you’re elected?
Teng: We have to be quick with the situation. We can go with our archives kung what information we have available to the students. We should be closely coordinating with the [admin], asking and consulting with them kung ano ‘yung puwedeng alternatives because the systems are down. With this consistent dialogue between the USG and the admin…we can address the concern, lalo na ‘yung unexpected or unprecedented situations such as the data privacy breach.
Francisco: [I] plan to continue the DLSU Student Services Guide, [which is] a current initiative wherein in one link, you can access all of the OVPIA-related resources already. All of the HDAs will also be archived there, [along with] all of the alternative…channels, the ITS computer laboratories’ availability, [and] the new Animo Wi-Fi password. And again, the “iNeed Assist Program”… Basically, whichever preference they have, that’s something that we will respond to. Lastly, we will be utilizing our seat in the CURE, so [that] all of the policies and plans that we will have, we will be bringing to the administration and ensure that the transparency reports and all of our proposals are well accounted for.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.