Past the mandatory ID scan and inspection, with just minutes to spare before the first class of the week, you’re greeted by animation in the halls. Some have already laid out their stocks, others still arranging their display; there’s a bazaar this week in campus.
By noon students flock to queues marked by the comforting scent of sisig and familiar ruckus of shawarma being carved by the spit. Snacks, novelty gift stalls, and retail shops have taken what’s usually free seating along Velasco, Miguel, and SJ Walks, also situated in the usually empty, if not org-laden spaces between Central, Yuch, and Henry Sy Lobby. But this is no temporary bazaar, this is DLSU Trade and it’s here to stay.
“Honestly, na-shock ako,” begins Archie Punay (III, CAM) who, like many students, didn’t know the atypical in-campus bazaar had already become permanent. “Kala ko naman pang Univ Week or may event lang or something,” he adds about the recent addition. (Honestly, I was shocked. I thought it was alrady Univ Week or that there was another event or something.)
This project was proposed by the College of Business and seen into its execution in partnership with various student entrepreneurs and business organizations two terms ago after the growing success of tri-annual bazaars throughout the years.
In an attempt to further utilize the school’s facilities and encourage entrepreneurship especially among student-owned businesses, “the rent expenses paid by vendors who choose to join go [to the] Vaugirard Scholarship Program and Lasallian Legacy Fund,” explains Ms. Natalia Henson of the Entrepreneurship Department. The retail opportunity isn’t limited to students alone, but outsiders as well, particularly well-received vendors that have graced DLSU’s halls for many years.
Paper-bagged Vietnamese iced coffee in one hand fiddling through a medley of stationery, plastic sunglasses between fabrics that hang from the stalls’ wired dividers, cheap gold necklaces, and ethnic bracelets side by side a henna tattoo stall—these are just some of the many stalls that will now became a fixture of the school, joining the lonely ranks of the old, trusty “vendos.” But will they suffer the same fate?
It seems that the lowly fate of the beverage vending machines was made inevitable by the recent issues that had sprung up since the few years that they’ve been installed on campus. In one incident, a female student showed her disgust online after finding a small cockroach in her iced cappuccino. Numerous students have also complained that sometimes the vending machines served nothing but ice or hot water. It was, more than anything else, an issue of maintenance.
This time, there is pressure from the student body for the administration to create a DLSU Trade that is sustainable and reflects the active and lively student life, but more importantly, one that actually sustains the consumer’s attention and responds to the market. It is, after all, a serious mix of businesses and business ventures.
The screening process
University Student Government (USG) President Zed Laqui has proposed in an executive meeting with the school administration that in order to ensure the quality of these newly installed fixtures on campus, the system followed in the Br. Bloemen Hall should also be adopted. Proposing a criteria and creating certain standards that must be followed, he explains, “We don’t want stalls in the future to become stagnant. Like everything else, it should learn to adapt with the times and must be what is relevant to the students.”
Archer’s Network, the TV organization in campus, had once created a short video of their jingle teasing the numerous Shawarma stalls on campus. Students have also reacted on social media about the seeming homogeneity of the food stalls.
“This is why a screening process must be rendered in order to make sure that the stalls that are put up fit the needs of the students as of the moment,” Laqui had further added. Both the USG and the administration have worked hours on end to reach a consensus on the criteria to be followed that preparations for other events have been stalled.
Last month, a focus group discussion was conducted in order to talk to students from organizations Culture and Arts Organizations, Student Media Organizations, and various organizations under the Council of Student Organizations were selected to take part in it. In the aforementioned focus group discussion, students were subjected to different products and brands. The administration even invited consumer analysts and successful Lasallian entrepreneurs to have a say, as well.
Basically, in trying to create a decision, Laqui said in an interview, “It’s important to ask, ‘What is trending?’, ‘What values do we want to promote?’, ‘How will this enrich the Lasallian experience?’” Soon, Lasallians will enjoy stalls that are better suited to cater to their needs. As for the shawarma stalls and lemon juice stands, Lasallians will be looking forward to more choices that won’t leave their breaths tasting like onions or juices that will aggravate acidic stomachs.
The rise of the local Lasallian art scene
Social justice advocates inside campus have even made good use of this new avenue for students through pushing for advocacies they support. Instead of mere business ventures, these groups have engaged in more relevant social enterprises. Inviting local Lasallian artists and partnering with writers and graphic illustrators in making zines and statement shirts. They advocate feminism, LGBTQA, and animal rights.
At the same time, in the recent DLSU Trade fair last year, there was an actual stall for Lasallian artists to showcase and sell their paintings and photos that tackle controversial issues like the drug war and death penalty. Although most of the students artists involved in this project offer their work for cheap prices, Christina Tianco (III, ME) who painted a controversial piece on Duterte’s anti-feminist statements, said “It isn’t even the money that we’re really after, that’s just an afterthought. It’s really getting to know these people that are really as passionate as you in something and actually sparking interest in other Lasallians for the art that you do that serves a cause.”
If there is one thing that the permanence of these stalls will bring, it’s a more vibrant culture inside campus. This time, with or without the shawarma stalls.