The recent moratorium imposed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on field trips, issued after the tragic bus accident in Tanay, Rizal about a month ago, seems like the latest in a series of band-aid solutions made in response to certain accidents or tragedies. A band-aid is a small bandage applied to a wound to ensure it does not get reaggravated; in similar fashion, band-aid solutions are referred to as such because they are temporary fixes that actually do little to resolve the real issue.
In the case of the bus accident in Rizal, there are a number of issues that should have been studied—the condition of our roads, the credentials of our public vehicle drivers, the regulations imposed by universities. Instead, however, CHED opted to bypass these factors and issue the nationwide moratorium, depriving thousands of university students of external activities, some of which had been months in the making, others of which had been partially or completely paid for, with no easy alternative. They all had to be postponed until further notice.
In no way are we saying that enjoying an external activity is more important than the safety of students, and of course, it is only natural that in response to this grave accident, a heightened focus is placed on ensuring that the tragedy does not repeat itself. But the fact remains that the moratorium itself, whether temporary or not, does nothing to target the relevant issues of vehicular safety, or road quality, or regulation.
Meanwhile, some jokes began going around social media, with some students wondering aloud if lamp posts were going to be banned next. The fact that the first step taken by CHED could be turned into a joke by way of analogy shows that their proposed solution was neither sustainable nor effective.
When applying a band-aid to a wound, you do so in order to protect the scar while allowing it to heal itself. In this case, it seems like this solution was made with the hopes of preventing further accidents and allowing the problem to fix itself—unlikely, at best.
When a Lasallian passed away because of a drug-related incident during a concert last year, the University responded by temporarily halting all parties, music festivals, and other related events, while suggesting a change in the U-Break, to the outrage of majority of the student body.
Instead of implementing stricter policies and furthering the conversation about drug education, the administration thought it best to shorten the Lasallian weekend and to limit the activities that organizations could conduct.
After the incident that occurred in Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall earlier this year, one of the precautions implemented by the University was to position steel wires along the stairwell, after closing it to the public for a whole term. It may have been a thoughtful reaction, but not one that deals with the actual issue. The action alone becomes useless if it is not accompanied by initiatives that target the real problem: mental health, and the stigma revolving around it.
When reacting to terrible accidents, kneejerk reactions are never the answer. Whether it is a national or university-wide event, we should always strive to target the root of the problem, reevaluating and implementing new systems, enhancing and focusing on policies, or furthering discussions and raising awareness on relevant issues, as needed. Band-aid solutions, especially if implemented solely for the sake of doing something, offer very little, especially when the true underlying reasons behind these accidents are overlooked. Quick solutions can be easy, but they are hardly ever effective.
Accidents and tragedies will continue to occur in situations we least expect. It is about time our community realizes, then, that more thought and effort must be made to ensure that the solutions we come up with do not just act as band-aids, temporarily covering up issues, but instead target the roots of problems in an attempt to create long-term fixes.