A peso for your thoughts?

Students find themselves constantly in the dark about the rationale behind increasing fees each year, as DLSU maintains a stoic silence on the matter.

If there’s one thing we can count on from DLSU administrators, it’s this: they will never be open about tuition fee increases (TFI) as if doing so would open the proverbial Pandora’s box—as if any word that would come out of their mouth is poison. 

Throughout the years, the University Student Government (USG) has been steadfast in its stance that tuition fees can and should stay the same. This year, under the Hari-Ong administration, the pushback against a rumored nine-percent increase has been evident in their campaign that employs surveys, group discussions, mobilizations around campus, and meetings with University administrators.

Yet, in all these, the question remains: why must the increase be so high? Administrators won’t say.

DLSU, despite loud resistance year after year, has been consistent with its lack of transparency, leaving students guessing and grappling with the burden of rising costs. It seems we are left to surmise that the increase is because of macroeconomic factors and to simply pay more and more each year. Even worse, when the fees did increase in previous years, the administration kept mum, and the students silently dealt with the surprising amount they had to dissect from the assessment. 

Earlier this month, students were greeted with a surprise, that is the late reflection of the four-percent TFI for Academic Year 2023-2024 in their My.LaSalle accounts. A day after the fact, a Help Desk Announcement from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration communicated the reassessment of Term 1 fees—the closest the student body has ever gotten to an increase notice in recent history. 

Any other successful attempt to get an explanation from DLSU has only ever been through personal communications. In a past interview with The LaSallian, Provost Robert Roleda explained that last year’s increase was to cater to deferred infrastructural developments and to shoulder the faculty’s proposed income hike. Truly so, the escalator at The Learning Commons is already running halfway. Numerous construction projects, including laboratories in the Laguna Campus and the renovation of the St. Mutien Marie Hall, have broken ground.

Amid all these, a Lasallian’s day-to-day struggles would prove these developments inadequate. Years of demand for more reliable online systems have been constantly placed on the sidelines. Some organizations have had their budgets noticeably cut despite face-to-face operations returning in full swing. Facilities such as elevators and laboratory equipment remain faulty. Even the tallest buildings would not suffice to justify such an increase. Should they provide more financial support to members of the community who cannot afford a hike, the allocation of resources still does not align with the pressing needs of the students.

The reality is that the student body grapples with an enigmatic concept, one which we have no choice but to surrender to. 

Simply put, the administration should be more open about the reasons for a TFI. It shouldn’t take an interview request for everyone to know about the rationale behind rising tuition fees. It shouldn’t take a deep dive into financial statements from the Securities and Exchange Commission to know how the University is doing. We are customers who have the right to know what our money is worth and where it is going.

To oppose a TFI is not to oppose development but to demand it. A campaign against a potential tuition fee increase is essentially a call for more transparent and cost-efficient budgeting with proper delivery from the University administration to the student body. The administration must do more than annual town hall meetings focused solely on infrastructure and research goals. Only through transparency and accountability can DLSU truly fulfill its role as a steward of education.

The LaSallian

By The LaSallian

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