by Shay Du | February 22, 2023
Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) and other departments in the university called for more student consultation and cooperation within the community after the SU Library’s relocation to the SU Gym.
The SUSG urged the SU administration to conduct more consultations with the student body after they were “blindsided” by the relocation.
Meanwhile, the Physical Education (PE) and Athletics departments, along with the University Librarian, emphasized the need for the SU community to cooperate with and respect each other during this transitory period.
“We believe we are one [with] the university, [so] we [should] help one another attain its vision for total human development,” said Meriam Ramacho, head of the PE department.
An online discussion arose when the library to the gym relocation was announced on Jan. 17 via email and social media.
Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Dr. Earl Jude Cleope suggested the gym as the area for relocation because it was the best option in terms of logistics and student convenience.
Cleope made arrangements with the PE and Athletics departments prior to the relocation, but the SUSG was not included in consultations because it was “an administrative call.”
“I felt that there was no need to consult the students because, in the first place, they don’t know the operational [aspects] and the financials [of the library],” Cleope said.
Cleope further stated that the timing of the meetings regarding the relocation made it difficult to call students to attend.
SUSG: Students should still be consulted, lacking admin–student engagement an ongoing problem
According to John Christian Entrata, SUSG president, he and Vice President Kyla Bue only discussed the matter of the library’s temporary relocation with Cleope after it was announced.
“[We] actually found out about [the relocation] by accident [during] an interview with Hashtag Silliman in the library, [where we saw personnel] repacking things,” Entrata said.
While Entrata agreed with the administration’s decision to use the gym as the area for relocation, he criticized the lack of student consultation because “the [students] are the primary users of the gym and the library.”
“Actually, [the lack of student consultation has been] a major concern [of] the SUSG for years already, and all we can [really do is to] reach out,” Entrata said. “However, sometimes we don’t actually know [what matters we need to] reach out about.”
Entrata further questioned the lack of communication on the library relocation issue because of the existence of an SUSG Representative to the University Library Council (ULC).
This representative acts as a liaison between the ULC and the SUSG by communicating with the University Librarian and attending meetings of the ULC, according to Rep. Pauleen Oconer, who currently holds the position.
However, the last time Oconer was called for a meeting on the library renovation was in November 2022.
“At the time, [the] renovation topic wasn’t urgent yet,” Oconer said.
Plans for the renovation presented at the meeting had also been different, according to Oconer, with the renovation being scheduled for June 2023 and the books possibly being transferred to a “third-party” building.
Following these events, Entrata called on the administration, in general, to be more proactive in engaging with the student body through the SUSG and making them aware of major decisions.
“I think the problem is that the [administration] thinks that we’re [going to] go against them or we’ll go protesting [whenever they consult us],” Entrata said.
He said, “But [the more important reason why] we want student consultation is because we want to know how we can [offer] support and where we can come in when it comes to the plans of the administration.”
In response to these events, Entrata said that the SUSG Assembly has plans to craft a resolution that will encourage the administration to initiate more dialogue with the student body through monthly or bi-monthly meetings.
Lib, PE, Athletics depts. emphasize cooperation, respect
During meetings with the administration, the PE and Athletics departments agreed with the decision to temporarily relocate the library to the gym.
“With optimism in our hearts and minds, we agreed to the proposal because we have alternative venues for our PE classes,” Ramacho said. “With these, we also followed up our request for the roofing of the swimming pool and Pelota courts in anticipation [of] our PE offerings in the first semester of school year 2023-2024.”
Dionesio Piñero II, head of the athletics department, also agreed to the arrangement since concerns related to varsity practices and the University Intrams have already been addressed.
“The gym is for all, not just [for the athletes or the PE classes; that’s why it’s called the multi-purpose gym,” Piñero said. “[Plus,] this is our third experience of having been affected by the [unavailability] of the gym, so in times like these we always have our options [that will also ensure] the safety and security of our students.”
Alternative venues include the Alaska Court and Cimafrance Ballfield.
While Piñero appreciated the “healthy” discussion that came from the students expressing their sentiments about the relocation issue, he also reminded them to be more understanding toward the situation.
“[On the athletics department’s side], we have to look back [on] how we can help because we’ve been using the gym every day,” Piñero said. “We [should] also give others the chance to use the gym because there is no other place that the library can place all their equipment.”
Responding to negative reactions to the library’s relocation to the gym on social media, Sarah Angiela Ragay, officer-in-charge of the University Librarian’s office, called for respect since PE classes and library operations will both continue to be held at the gym.
Ragay also emphasized that, while the current arrangement is a burden on all affected parties, the SU community should still be considerate of each other.
“We are doing [this] because [we still need to serve the students’] information needs,” Ragay said.