“The Student Government is drained physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Addressing the issues brought about by the Digital Campus initiatives, Serine Obviar, executive president of the Student Government (SG) expressed her dismay over student apathy during her State of the Student Government Address (SOSGA) held at the Diokno Auditorium, Feb. 9.
With less than 40 percent of the target attendees, Obviar pointed out that they cannot do their duty as representatives of the student body if the majority of the student population does not involve themselves on school and social matters.
Drawbacks of the D-Campus ‘prototype’
Obviar shared that there are a number of issues that had to be dealt with as a result of the execution of projects and policies under the directive of Br. Dante Jose Amisola, president and chancellor of De La Salle Lipa (DLSL).
Starting from misinformation regarding Wednesday schedules to the delayed distribution of the Next+ IDs, Obviar commented that the various changes in the system ushered challenges to students.
Specifically, she cited the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, mentioning that not everyone can afford a laptop or a smartphone especially after the implementation of the recent tuition hike.
“Some can barely get through college in this institution. Yet despite this, we are barely given enough time to prepare financially,” Obviar said.
Also, even if students have the gadgets required by the institution, Obviar noted that those are of no use due to the slow internet speed in the campus.
“The administration brags about the 1 gigabit per second [internet] speed, but in what areas? In the Student’s Center, yes! In McDonald’s in front of our school, yes! But how about in the actual classrooms where students need it most?” Obviar said.
Aside from this, the problems with the Canvas accounts of students during the first semester and teachers’ inability to integrate online teaching to their teaching strategies were also identified as downsides of the new Learning Management System (LMS).
“Through our numerous complaints, I have realized that we are nothing more than prototypes of this so-called digital leap,” said Obviar.
With this, the SG president warned the class mayors to be critical of the changes that are happening as these may not be for the betterment of everyone.
However, in spite of all the inadequacies, Obviar finds hope that as they continue to reach out to the DLSL administration they would find clarity in the direction undertaken by the school management.
“I would like to believe that we should trust this process, which is why the Student Government continues to question and clarify these changes with the offices concerned,” Obviar clarified.
Pointing fingers to apathy problem
Aside from underlining the flaws of the DLSL administration, Obviar also attacked the lack of involvement of Lipa Lasallian students.
“If it (student body) cannot support its representatives who are killing themselves to fight for what is equal, then by next year the Student Government can no longer function as the protector of student welfare,” Obviar said.
However, during the Townhall which followed Obviar’s speech, Jack Daniel Padura, third-year BS Accounting Technology student, countered the SG president saying that the student body cannot feel the presence of SG in their programs and projects.
In addition, Edrick Castillo, third-year BS Electronics Engineering student even questioned the SG for having the SOSGA in a smaller and more exclusive venue which led to less student participation.
“How can you encourage student engagement when you do not welcome students to this kind of event in the first place?” Castillo asked.
In reply, Obviar explained that though last year’s SOSGA was held at a larger venue at the Mabini Exhibit Area, the number of attendees was also quite small. Hence, only the class mayors were invited this year to represent their respective classes.
Meanwhile, Obviar said that they plan to place television units in both the south and north lounges next week where the video of the SOSGA will be played, as a supplemental measure for those who missed attending the event.
Budget and activities
Obviar also presented the programs and projects that were accomplished by her administration for the whole semester.
The highlights of the report were the “You Are Not Alone” (YANA) project for the promotion of students’ well-being, the online Grievances, Complaints, and Suggestions (GCS) form as a faster feedback system, and other assistance programs like hassle-free subject encoding, printing, and scanning services for students.
In line with this, Obviar disclosed the budget of the SG amounting to Php 829,901.61 from the initial collection of Php 1,067,502.13 at the start of the academic year.
Also, contrary to what they said during the first semester that they will only be collecting fees once a year, Obviar said that another Student Council Fund was collected this semester.
“We were led to understand that this (first semester) was the first and last collection for the school year. However, just this semester, we discovered that a student council fund was being collected with the same breakdown,” Obviar said.
Furthermore, Ivory Bermoy, SG executive auditor, clarified that although they were given the option to let students refund the Php 295.00 for the said fund, they chose to just maximize the collected budget for upcoming activities.
When asked regarding the plans of the SG for the remaining months, Obviar said that aside from their continuing projects such as financial assistance to students, College Week celebrations, Students’ Week activities, and YANA, they are also going to adopt a local community for sustainable development efforts.
On the other hand, Rashid Quddus, SG executive vice president, also mentioned plans for a nationwide project currently being coordinated with different organizations across the country, though no specific details were yet presented as of press time.
Towards the end, Quddus reminded students to use their democratic power to suggest actions to the SG.
“The power to create these activities are not centralized officially to SG officers, we are inviting students and student leaders to have a say in what activities they want to have [and] what projects they want to be a part of,” Quddus stressed.
SOSGA is an annual activity of the SG aimed to keep the Lasallian community updated with the accomplishments and plans of the student council for the whole academic year. It is patterned after the State of the Nation Address of the national government.
For this year’s Facebook live coverage of the SOSGA, click the links below: