STUDENT SLAYER Broadsh*I*t
Last week, some of you may have noticed the cardboard cutouts that were conspicuously present in some areas of the university. If you’re wondering what on earth they were for, it just so happens that the university underwent an assessment by representatives of the Commission of Higher Education. Different sectors of the university from faculty members, non-academic personnel to the students were asked by several panellists to give an assessment of the school on some key indicator points like governance, community service and others. Basically, the assessors wanted to know whether the people who are part of the university are satisfied with its service. However, a week before it happened, the students who were picked to attend it were given an orientation so they could anticipate what the assessors would ask. It was pretty long and boring – nearly three and a half hours. But it did present some curious observations.
First off, the students present for the orientation. It was quite obvious there was a common denominator among them. They were the achievers, the future cum laudes, the student leaders. It wasn’t surprising that they would be picked by their respective colleges – their records would certainly serve to highlight the high quality of performance the university hopes to put a spotlight on.
Next, the orientation itself. The whole thing was skirting the line between coaching the students for the answers to giving them the answers themselves. Of course, one might call it as just pointing the students in the right direction. Or if we’re going to be frank, spoon-feeding. They certainly needed that especially in the beginning when no one wanted to answer whether out of hesitation, shyness, or just plain apathy. Eventually, the ball got rolling and some of the students answered. With long-winded speeches in some cases and a perfectly intoned “That is all. Thank you very much.” as though they were in a beauty pageant or something.
And then there were the answers themselves. Some were pretty straightforward like the community extension services (CES) of the school which is probably the one thing that’s hard to embellish with pretty words and grandstanding. We see evidence of it in the work of those who participate in it and the recognitions they receive. Some of them were particularly skilful deflecting ninja moves like the mass communication laboratory. That was just really sad to hear but who would dare argue that the only digital speech lab in the region where mass comm students certainly can’t do any recording, shooting, or any of the practical works they do is not a mass communication lab? Oh the nerve indeed!
Basically, the point we are trying to make with these observations is that the orientation for the assessment was there to push the students to give the expected answers, the best answers, the answers that would put the university in the best light. And yet, the point of the whole institutional sustainability assessment is to know the satisfaction of students and the others who are part of the university. If, in the case of the students, we only picked those with the high grades and good standing, how would we know how the average students or those with failing grades feel? How would we know whether there’s a flaw in the program they are in or if they need help? If we orient them to the right and expected answers and not the answers that matter, the ones that translate in reality and not the pretty words on the paper, how would we know what they truly experience? If we deflect their grievances with placations that only serve to patch up the situation and not cure it, how would we improve the service we give them? The students play a big part in the continued existence of the university. We are the customers and it is our parents’ hard-earned money that keeps this non-stock corporation functioning. It feels cheap to just look at one side and not the other simply because we want to look good.
But, fear not for the students did their job well. They gave good answers, they promoted the university, they made everything look good. However, here’s something to think about. During the end of the assessment itself, one of the assessors asked, “what is your wish?” meaning what else do they want the university to provide them. And a very simple but obvious request was put forward by a criminology student. He asked for a swimming pool. Not just for their college but for the marines, the nurses and the tourism students. It seems like a strange request especially when you take into account the WACOM tablet the computer studies students want. But think about it. Some of these students will have to train survival skills sorely needed in their future careers. But they have to go to nearby resorts to use a pool to train whenthe maritime college got that 11 million peso simulator laboratory. It certainly seems more doable than a certain museum. Hopefully, at least one of the many wishes the students gave could be heard by the upper echelons. They certainly deserve that.