Meet the Candidates: Jon Dy
Interview by: Dani Pua
Why did you decide to run for president?
“Down to basics—to fulfill the roles of the student council which are representation, student involvement, and of course the admin side—not just a link, but to be the mediator between the admin and the students so that everything can be addressed accordingly. The president should be at the forefront of addressing those problems. So it’s being at the forefront of fulfilling those basic roles of the student council.”
So is that what you think the role of the president should be? Representing the students?
“Of course siya yung executive officer. You’re the one who guides your members, who knows what each member can do and then apart from all the activities the school has, I think three things are essential: representation, involvement, empowerment of students. You always look to the president as the guy you know you can follow, you know you can believe in—the guy you know will really work for the students.”
How do you plan to represent the student body especially since, for example, you didn’t run for a position last year, so why now?
“It was offered to me when I was in first year. But given that I came from the UP student council for four years, there was a phase that you just wanted to rest ‘cause it’s really exhausting. This year, when the idea was re-introduced, cliché yung term pero parang na-ignite bigla. All of a sudden you start to think of so many things.
Why now? ‘Cause I think currently, the SC might be representing our school internally or externally—the problem is, I don’t think students know what they’re doing. You owe everything to your constituents. You have to be accountable, transparent. Example, general assemblies of the student council—unless you have some internal concerns you need to sort out, you have to make it open to the students so before you even announce that you’re doing something, they already have an idea. Even if the medical school setting is much more busy, I think some students will make time as long as the opportunity is there. Also, after a general assembly the minutes will always be released even though not all students are asking for it. It’s important for transparency.”
Is that your main criticism against the student council? That there’s a lack of information dissemination?
“Yeah, kasi for example if they have an activity—they might be planning it well ahead, but sometimes you know about it, what weeks before? A week before? We can’t expect the entire school to really engage in something so abrupt—it feels so abrupt. So yeah, they’re doing a lot, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that they’re not communicating with us enough.”
I think three things are essential: representation, involvement, empowerment of students. You always look to the president as the guy you know you can follow, you know you can believe in—the guy you know will really work for the students.
What do you think about the amount of projects the SC takes on? Do you think they’re doing enough, or not enough, or too much?
“We have to assess it based on whether it fulfills their purpose. Not just for the sake of holding an activity, not just to say you’ve done something. Does it represent the students? Does it involve them? Does it actually motivate them to join? I don’t think we need more projects. I think some of the projects they’re doing are really good—like the outreach committee ng SC kasi I think they’re one of the committees that really has done a lot and students are really becoming part of it, and students actually know what [the committee] is doing.”
So what kind of role would you like the student council to play if you’re elected? What projects would you prioritize? What would be your main focus?
“My platform is four things. SLCM—students, leaders, community as a college, and medical doctors.
I’m gonna start with leaders ‘cause it starts with the student council. I’ve included projects to ensure that the SC is well organized, principled, and relevant. Aside from open room general assemblies, I’ve included a constitution check. I believe the current SC is also pushing for it, and I did see that it did need some revisions. I’d also like to mention the TASC force. Transparency, accountability, and student consultation. Transparency—I mentioned this earlier. Accountability—I plan to release a so called “president’s report”, mid-sem and end-sem, to keep the students updated on everything that’s happening. I’ve made student consultation a priority because it’s at the grassroots level, meaning every student. It’s possible here. How? We officially recognize the batch officers as extensions of the student council and we work hand in hand with them to regularly consult students. The student consultation will probably be held in the same timeframe as the presidential reports, just to know if there’s any concern.
For students, ad hoc committees are transient committees that are assigned to fulfill a goal. We separate the SC from the ad hoc committee. It is part of the SC, but the roles of those in the SC are maintained. All of us in the school are involved in the ad hoc committees so we’re on a level playing field and there is decentralization—meaning students are involved because they know they can volunteer for a specific activity that they’re really interested in. It would be nice if different students were involved since different activities generate different interests.
For community, I’ve included the plan for batch student representation—maintaining constant communication through regular, strategically timed assemblies to consult with the students. That’s in line with another plan which is the grievance and solution system.”
Do you think there’s a problem with the feedback system now?
“What I think can be good other than a grievance system, there should be a solution system where the SC and batch student officers can be involved. For example there are academic activities that need to be revised or adjusted based on last year’s results. At the very least, the batch officers are not alone. At least the SC is there. It’s not micromanaging, it’s just being there. Just the fact that your presence is there means that you’re making it a priority, that we want resolution, everything fast and efficient and nothing in between.
Lastly, all of us are going to be medical doctors. One plan there is—I call it the medico-legal, so along the lines of laws. I think in terms of our school’s awareness alone of medically relevant policies and issues, especially that the elections are coming up nga in terms of RH bill—it’s not even a law, for such a long time. Sin tax—it’s not even being talked about in our school. There are not even discussions kahit infographic lang or a simple introduction of what the issue is about. We claim that St Luke’s is one of the best in the Philippines and probably in the world. How can we claim ourselves to be the best—not just one of the best—if we don’t involve ourselves? We’re going to be working under these systems. Our idea of creating a solution for individual patients has to be on a bigger scale. You can address this one patient’s concern about family planning or reproductive health on a one on one level, but the next plan is from medico-legal to medico-real. It’s lobbying for solutions. If you can do it with mobilization—empowering the students, we can as one of the top colleges propose to lobby for restitution, we can affect things on a bigger scale other than providing the best healthcare systems—and I do agree, it’s one of the best healthcare providers in the country. So why not affect it on a national level?”
That’s why hopefully as a school we can come up with some policies, and revisions to something that is currently implemented regarding health. So that we can be somehow more involved. Not just for the sake of calling ourselves the best, but because we know it can affect people. That in a way is a public service—we’re already doing a public service as doctors, but in a bigger scale, we can be that school that leads it.
“We tend to forget that the sin tax law—the sin tax bill before was proposed by doctors who believed that this was necessary, who couldn’t deal with the idea of just saying to their patients don’t smoke because smoking is bad; they did it by lobbying for a sin tax law that will increase taxes. At least it does somehow address the issue of illicit substance use.
So those are my four main parts—if you notice it’s from internal going to external. Starts with the SC then the students, then the college. If we are strong as a student council, strong as a college, then we can be strong externally.”
Speaking of being seen externally, what do you think a Lukan brand is supposed to be? What is that to you?
“We’ve always said that we’re well rounded students, and the thing is we can’t call ourselves well rounded if we’re mum about a lot of things outside of [the school]. A Lukan is well rounded, clinically competent and socially relevant. We’re good academically, research, clinically, but it’s hard to call ourselves well rounded when you see other institutions taking a stand against relevant national policies in medicine. I believe that a lot of students here have more to give especially if they know they can affect [policies] on the bigger scale.”
How do you deal with opposition and conflict? Because obviously no government is perfect.
“If you have conflict in the SC, you can’t do anything else ‘cause there’s always gonna be that rift. The thing is, it always boils down to communication. If there is certain tension there is always a lack of communication. So what I do is, this is just my way, whenever we have a conflict, we disagree to agree. You don’t necessarily have to agree with me, and I have to agree with you. We hold discussions and should conflict arise, the president’s role there is to be the devil’s advocate. If this side presents something like this, and the other side presents something like this, then you have to present what really is the situation. You have to know how to weigh the risk and the benefits if you decide to do one thing over the other.
Second, on a personal level, between members of the student council, again it’s still communication. Whenever you have conflicts, conflict resolution—you have to talk. We emphasize we are output based pero your team is so important. There is a difference in saying “how are you?”, and “why weren’t you able to do it?” versus saying “why weren’t you able to do it?” and “how are you?”. It says to your members that, okay we’re just a means to an end. We’re not as important as the ends. They are as important. They are students of this college, they are members of the SC, they are as important.
How about sa students naman? Communication pa rin. That’s why I emphasize on student consultation, the batch officers hand in hand to end conflict as quickly as possible because the longer it drags the more conflict it creates, until we have no chance of repairing the situation.”
If you get elected, you’re obviously going to have a lot to do. What if that comes in conflict with your academic performance? How would you deal with that?
“It really takes a lot of sacrifice. You minimize the conflicts with your academics and with your members’ academics with really good discussions and planning. They always say this with us—in a patient, history and examination is 90%. In the same way, I believe planning is already 90%. Implementation and execution is 10%. If you have a clear cut picture, clear cut roles of what you need to do and want to do, you won’t have a problem. You just need to compensate a little bit—that’s where foresight comes into play. You don’t want conflicts with academics especially for some maintaining scholarships, some who want to become scholars. We’re not gonna take that from them. We’re going to be practical. We’re not gonna focus on things that are not important.”
We’ve always said that we’re well rounded students, and the thing is we can’t call ourselves well rounded if we’re mum about a lot of things outside of [the school]. A Lukan is well rounded, clinically competent and socially relevant.
There has been discussion about raising the tuition fee. What do you think of that?
“We were in that meeting. The proposed increase is almost 12,000Php. As a student, scholar or not, I oppose the tuition fee increase even if it’s justified. I understand where the school is coming from, but when you really think of it, no. We have to oppose because last year there was an increase, the same amount—11,000Php—we’re a school that’s really advocating an equal opportunity for everyone to be a scholar. If anyone can be a scholar in our school, then we are advocating for not just quality medical education but also for accessible and affordable medical education. Justified increase, yes, but one of the main problems of aspiring doctors is not just the length, not just the difficulty, but definitely finances come into play. We have students here who are relying on personal stipends. If you increase the tuition fee even more it’s going to put a big barrier to many aspiring doctors.”
There’s also been discussion on how the Christmas party is financed and organized. What is your opinion on it?
“When I took over as head of the Christmas party, it was not about having a great party but it was about me involving all members of my batch given that we had one month left. When they consulted me, immediately I accepted it ‘cause I realized that we were running out of time and it needed someone who could troubleshoot. I knew I could troubleshoot. How much did you spend as a batch? Six figures, close to 300,000Php? I think that’s similar with what we spent… And I think it’s excessive. You can have a six figure party no less different than something you spend 10,000Php on, and you can direct the rest of the funds to for example the scholarship program, instead of having a lavish party. It’s not good. There was an emphasis that the party had to be great because last year, it was great—it’s not supposed to be a basis. It’s supposed to be about the goal which is everyone in the St. Luke’s community including clerks, interns, previous alumni, just having a good time for Christmas. If in the process, we can redirect some of the excess funds that were not spent to scholarships or many other things, then that would be better.
Although your article ruffled feathers, there really is something that needs to be done. The goal of gathering the St. Luke’s community becomes somewhat of an afterthought because you’re so focused on beautifying this when you can have a simple gathering—food, drinks, that’s it.”
How do you think the student council can involve themselves in the Christmas party next year? Do you think they should?
“Definitely. In terms of the SC’s role—there should be less emphasis on how the party has to be so great, no, you should not dictate that. Allow the freedom of the first years. Second, the SC works hand in hand with the head, keeps constant communication—again, there’s emphasis on communication—it should be what the first years want with the goal in mind. As far as I’m concerned when we were oriented, there was no emphasis on the goal. Nade-degrade yung goal eh. Use it as an opportunity to solidify the batch. I hope your batch was solidified. That’s the kind of magic I wanted. After the Christmas party, our batch was something different. Because everyone was there, there was just a different feel that the batch was more supportive. The general feel that nagsasalohan na kayo bigla. So I hope it happened with your batch.”
If you could use a medical instrument to describe your leadership style, what would it be and why?
“The BP. We know the BP is something used to measure blood pressure, monitor patients especially those na di mo alam have high or low pressures. It just means that you’re always in control when you know what the situation is. If your BP is so high, you can bring it down. If your BP is too low, let’s bring it up to the ideal. I can assure you that if elected, there will always be a sense of control. If conflict does arise, we can slow things down—just like in measuring BP of patients, you can’t rush it, but you have to be in control. Does matter how high or how low but don’t ever let it go above what you can’t control.”
Last question, besides academics or medicine, what are you passionate about?
“Public service. Last time I held a position, the issue in our college was we were apathetic. I personally and my members really went out of our way. That’s where we realized you can affect a lot of people. We did immersions in poor communities, we had outreaches—like what the outreach committee is doing now… So the impact that the outreach committee has— I think it’s one of the greatest. That’s why hopefully as a school we can come up with some policies, and revisions to something that is currently implemented regarding health. So that we can be somehow more involved. Not just for the sake of calling ourselves the best, but because we know it can affect people. That in a way is a public service—we’re already doing a public service as doctors, but in a bigger scale, we can be that school that leads it.”
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