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Govs criticize SSI over lack of consultation

By Kean Andrei Bagaipo, Nathaniel Carampatana, and Shay Du | November 9, 2023

Following the Silliman University Student Government’s (SUSG) implementation of its Study Space Initiative (SSI), some governors expressed disappointment at the lack of consultation among college councils included in the program.

The SUSG opened its university-wide study spaces from Oct. 16 to 28 during the midterm exams, notably adding study spaces in selected departments aside from the usual services offered at the Oriental Hall (OH) in previous school years.

SUSG President Enrica Dinopol and Vice-President Timothy Libres included the SSI as one of the five platforms they campaigned under during last year’s elections. 

It aimed to address the lack of study spaces on campus and the costliness of studying in coffee shops by “[providing] additional and free spaces where students can study.” 

Upon implementation this year, the SUSG said the League of Governors (LOG) had the primary role as the manpower to implement the program in their respective college departments.

“The SSI’s main objective is to have extra areas on campus to make certain that should students need these facilities, it is available for them in these peak academic seasons,” the SUSG said.

However, the governors of the School of Public Affairs and Governance (SPAG), Senior High School (SHS), Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (IEMS), College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ICLS), and the College of Mass Communication (CMC) stated there was a “lack of consultation” among them and the SUSG, with the governor of the College of Agriculture specifying that “consultation was late” on their end.

“The SUSG President and Vice President pitched the initiative to us at our first F2F LOG Meeting,” said SPAG Governor EJ Catan. “We were excited about the initiative, and we were planning on showing support.”

However, he then reported that weeks later, the SUSG Secretariat sent a message regarding their plans to meet with their college dean, followed by the final publication of the SSI’s additional study spaces.

“Because what actually happened was that the governors were bypassed, and the deans were the only ones communicated with regarding the rooms,” he added. 

Effects of the lack of consultation

With governors claiming that the SUSG did not consult with them on the SSI, the SPAG, SHS, and CAS governors reported that fewer students have been using the rooms allocated by their respective colleges for the SSI during the stipulated times. 

“Yes, there is indeed a lack of research before pushing through with the initiative. Right now [at the time of writing], the result of the initiative is that there are no students going to the room at KH22. I think there should have been a better room available where the students of my college are already comfortable,” Catan said. 

He also said that there was no survey assessing if the students would prefer studying in the chosen room. 

“The result of the SSI is a bit sad for me because the preparation could have been more worth it with proper information. For the SPAG students, the KH22 Room can be scary, and they may not be comfortable working there. Students have told me regarding the discomfort while being there because KH can be scary at night,” Catan said. 

For CAS Governor Rex Peji, whose council created their CAS Study Lounge Committee independently from the SSI, the only difference between the two is that “SSI wishes to extend the time until 10 p.m. instead of the regular 7 p.m.”

However, according to their data, he said that few students would use their study lounge at those times.

“We can also say that this decrease in the number of students is because they don’t need to use the lounge to wait for their next class. So, is SSI relevant and necessary? I believe that it could have had more impact if the SUSG had done a consultation and tried to really know the situation of each college and the needs of the students,” he added.

Meanwhile, SHS Governor Seve Tuale echoed a similar experience with the study space in his department, with volunteers handling the usage of the NRC rooms for SHS reporting that “not many students visited the study spaces after 5 p.m.” and instead utilized the space during afternoon hours when the volunteers were not around. 

Based on such concerns, Catan then suggested that a survey sent to the colleges should have been part of the process of implementing the SSI. 

“Contained in the survey should be questions regarding the rooms, if the students are in favor of the study spaces chosen, or [if] they prefer just the OH Building opened. After that, the surveys should be discussed [in an] LOG meeting. After consulting the LOG, the SUSG should let the governors talk to their deans,” he said.

IEMS Governor Kirsten del Mundo also emphasized the importance of communication with the governors when implementing initiatives in “small and remote colleges like ours.”

Other than that, ICLS Governor Cedrick Babor urged the SUSG to provide an outline of events that “necessitate [the LOG’s] collaboration, along with the associated funding requirements, before each semester begins” so that councils may allocate their resources effectively.

On the budget and services for the additional study spaces 

Franz Jullian Sevilla, CMC Governor, reported that the councils received “no budget”  from the SUSG for each department’s expenses on the said program.

“The SUSG gave us the prerogative [that] if we, as a council, would want to set up snack supplies for our own department then it would be fine. However, there was no mention about the SUSG providing these snacks in each college’s study spaces aside from the OH [Oriental Hall],” he said.

However, due to the reported lack of communication, some college councils were not able to adequately prepare such services for the initiative.

Others were able to make such preparations, but they were in connection with their independent initiatives as college councils.

While CAS was able to allocate resources through their own initiative, Peji added that the SUSG could have provided free snacks and drinks or people who could man the lounge during the day.

SUSG response

In a statement, the SUSG said they “recognized that SSI faced certain adversities along its implementation” and will hold themselves accountable for all the difficulties faced.

However, they clarified that all “paperwork and communications” with the deans “took time to be finalized” and afterward communicated with the governors.

On the SSI’s implementation, the SUSG said that all their main key success indicators for the project had been met and that it was “well-received” by the majority of the students who participated.

“Of course, we aren’t going to limit it to just that, but we will continue to improve for the next implementations,” they added.

The SUSG also mentioned the potential additions of services and resources in future iterations of the SSI, but these are subject to review.

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