Wednesday, December 7, 2022

What’s Stopping You, SU?

by the Weekly Sillimanian | November 28, 2021

For the last few weeks, updates on the possible return of face-to-face classes from different entities of Silliman University have been a hot topic. After more than a year of online distance learning (ODL), students are undoubtedly yearning to finally step foot on campus grounds, hoping that the days of facing a computer screen all day for a diploma will finally end soon.

Still, despite Dumaguete City being under Alert Level 2 for two weeks now, these updates have been neutral to slightly optimistic at best — and students are beginning to wonder what more the university and the city need for face-to-face classes to finally return.

On November 17, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) announced that limited face-to-face classes are finally allowed in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3, supposedly including Dumaguete City, which has been placed under Alert Level 2. However, certain conditions must also be followed, such as a 50% indoor venue capacity, support from the local government, and a fully vaccinated personnel and student population.

In a news interview for the Weekly Sillimanian, the Student Housing and Residence Division has stated their readiness to accommodate students at only half the usual capacity of the dormitories. Additionally, the Buildings and Grounds Department has stated that although the retrofitting of classrooms has not been done, the handwashing and triage system have been provided and renovations for the different laboratories are finished. They have also assured us that while the classrooms are not as clean as they were before the pandemic, they are regularly maintained by custodians. So far, the local government has also shown support for the return of face-to-face classes.

Despite the objections students have shown towards ODL, we have had no choice but to adapt and get comfortable with online classes, to the point where some students have accepted the idea of graduating without ever stepping foot on campus again. However, there is still hope. Knowing the status of the previously mentioned departments’ readiness, we can deduce that a fully vaccinated university population is all there is left for us to prioritize. And that can be achieved with just a few steps.

We call on the administration to coordinate with the local government and Commission on Higher Education to eventually return face-to-face classes. We also urge them to give the university a more accessible vaccine and possibly boosters soon for its population. Although at least half of the respondents to the survey by the student government (SUSG) have reported being fully vaccinated, there is still a significant percentage of us who have not had access to the vaccine. Viruses also mutate over time, so booster shots for those already vaccinated are just as crucial to ensuring protection.

Students and faculty also have a huge responsibility to fulfill this criterion. We urge you all to secure yourselves and get vaccinated. The best brand of vaccine is what is available. Also, whenever you get emails or notifications for vaccination-related surveys, such as the SUVAXX one by the SUSG, do not ignore them. Take a few minutes out of your time to answer them as this helps the university keep track of its progress, hence speeding up our way to face-to-face classes.

Given the drastic changes we have had to make in the last two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we just want normalcy. We want to touch real classroom doors, not webcams and mute buttons. We need constant reminders that we can still toss our graduation caps on campus and not on screen. And to achieve that, we need continuous progress both from the administration and university population. So, what’s stopping you?

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