Thursday, April 18, 2024

One department, one building: IRS awaits to reclaim Angelo King

by Allianah Junnice Bolotaulo and Paul Ray Donaire | October 18, 2023

With the design of the Silliman University (SU) Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ICLS) building set to be finalized, it has been much anticipated that the Institute of Rehabilitative Sciences (IRS) will have exclusive usage of the Angelo King (AK) building. 

“The Angelo King will be solely for PT (physical therapy),” Engr. Edgar Ygnala, SU Buildings and Grounds Superintendent, confirmed.

The SU-PT program used to follow a five-year curriculum. Because of this, students would opt for other pre-medicine programs such as nursing, medical technology, and biology. However, when the Commission on Higher Education released Memorandum Order Number 55 Series of 2017, shortening the curriculum to four years, the PT student population increased significantly within three to four years. 

For this academic year, IRS requested to use three of the four physical education department classrooms under the Filomeno Cimafranca Ballfield grandstand to accommodate their student population. IRS also added WiFi and air conditioning units to complete the lecture rooms. 

Along with the first floor of the AK building, IRS also utilized several classrooms in the New Academic Building (NAB). However, their stay in NAB was shortened since the B.S. Pharmacy program needed the classrooms as their population grew. 

IRS Dean Dr. Lily Bautista stressed that the grandstand classrooms are not a permanent solution to their lack of classrooms. 

“We’re doing what we can to maximize the available classrooms. We targeted it because nobody wanted [to use] it, and it’s right across us. It is an easy path,” she said. 

Since the additional classrooms are “very small,” Dr. Bautista said that the permanent solution lies in the ICLS building construction. Once ICLS moves out, IRS will occupy the entire AK building. 

IRS lecture and laboratory classroom system

Previously, IRS only had two laboratories, two lecture rooms, and anatomy rooms for cadavers and specimens. However, with the student population increasing, IRS needed more laboratory classrooms. 

Dr. Bautista confirmed that PT has the most laboratory subjects among all SU programs. To successfully implement their curriculum, with the increased number of students, they had to turn all of the rooms in their part of the AK building into laboratories. 

IRS adopted a classroom system where laboratories can be immediately converted into lecture rooms. This move enabled the institute to house most of its students in the AK building. 

Dr. Bautista shared that the current system made classes more teacher-efficient. Having access to laboratory equipment during lectures enhances the teaching process. 

“For example, a subject that I teach has a lecture and a laboratory, so if I’m doing a lecture in a laboratory room, I can easily get the equipment and then show it to the student,” she said. 

However, things are different for the classrooms under the grandstand at Filomeno Cimafranca Ballfield. When faculty members need to show specific equipment to their students, they “would have to haul” it there. 

IRS also does not utilize classrooms within the main campus since laboratory assistants would have to keep transferring equipment from one place to another, posing risks. 

At present, IRS has ten classrooms—seven in the AK building and three at the Filomeno Cimafranca Ballfield. 

“We have a system in place wherein we plot our schedules and have a schedule for classrooms. We have a very strong student government (council) […] they’re the ones who disseminate so the students know where to go,” she explained.

IRS’ big plans

Should they reclaim the entire AK building, IRS would gain around four or five classrooms. Since the ICLS setup is different, renovations are necessary. 

Dr. Bautista said they hope to open more rehabilitation science programs such as occupational therapy (OT) and speech therapy.

With opening an OT course as their “ultimate goal,” Dr. Bautista is determined to make it happen. If they remain in their current setup, she intends to continue their strategy on the maximization of classrooms. However, the additional program will begin with a few students that will eventually increase. 

She said, “I have identified that the maximum [number of students] that we can have is 450. Right now, we are at 420. That’s why I thought that even with the addition of the OT program, I think we’d be able to manage it.”

Until ICLS moves into their building, the student population of IRS will remain unchanged. 

Students’ experiences 

“[The] lack of facilities in Angelo King has indeed affected students’ learning,” expressed IRS Governor Janna Mari Digamon.

With over 400 students at the institute, two lecture rooms built for physical therapy classes seem underwhelming. But the problem does not end there because the rooms are separated by metal barriers. When classes are held simultaneously, both classes “can hear each other and would cause the students to lose focus.” 

Digamon further claimed that the program “lacks several equipment.” This has contributed to learning mishaps as “there are times when a professor cannot show [them] a demonstration.”

On having temporary classrooms under the Cimafranca Ballfield Grandstand, one factor to note is that those are “not conducive to the learning process.”

“The rooms can accommodate one section but there is still not enough space to freely collaborate due to the size of the room. The air conditioning also works poorly as it does not provide enough ventilation throughout the room,” she said.

Every college, as small as the Institute of Environment and Marine Sciences or as big as CAS, deserves to have its building as it is a place where students can foster a sense of camaraderie. While the AK building was built for Allied Health courses, which explains why it houses both the ICLS and IRS, both programs are worth providing a separate “home” of their own.

A message for the admin 

While Dr. Bautista acknowledges the SU administration’s immediate response, she hopes for “more definitive updates” on the ICLS building. With the demand for more classrooms, she also calls for “a sense of urgency.”

She said, “As far as approval [and] support, I think it’s there. It’s the implementation that’s the problem. If it’s already approved, why is it taking so long?”

Dr. Bautista said that updates on the building would help them plan at the departmental level in terms of increasing student population and marketing. 

(This is the second story of a three-part special report on the buildings and facilities of SU ICLS, IRS, and Pharmacy programs.)

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