“Today is a day of innovation.”
This was declared by DLSU Chancellor Br. Bernie Oca FSC as he expressed his thrill over the University going fully cashless through the use of GCash effective third term of Academic Year 2018-2019.
Following the initial launch of the system by the DLSU Libraries in August of last year, a recent survey of 50 DLSU Senior High School students conducted by the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Services found the student body being “highly in favor of using GCash,” garnering a 63 percent approval rate and prompting administrators to roll it out to the rest of the campus.
‘Welcomed by students’
According to Libraries Director Christine Abrigo, the initial success of the GCash system gained the attention of University administrators, which was also confirmed by the “large-scale” survey conducted. “The initial plan was such a success—we did not expect this approach to be fully welcomed by students,” Abrigo admits.
Oca explains that the “favorable reviews” from the students convinced him and other top administrators to implement the mode of payment throughout the entire campus. An initial rollout at the Animo Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) is scheduled for the first week of the third term, with other stores around campus such as Perico’s to follow suit, under the supervision of Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services Karen Hebron.
Apart from concessionaires in Animo BIZ, Hebron adds that students “will be able to pay their tuition fees using only GCash,” removing the need to bring physical cash that could “bulk up their wallets.” Purchases at the DLSU bookstore, transactions at the photocopying stations, and even payments for organization-related activities such as buying tickets or shirts could soon be done through GCash as well.
When asked if there will still be the option to pay through alternative means such as cash, credit, or check, Hebron clarifies that for convenience, GCash will be the sole payment option for every transaction done in DLSU. She adds, “I must admit, mahirap ‘tong decision. But if we don’t do it, who else will?”
(I must admit, this was a hard decision to make. But if we don’t do it, who else will?)
When asked if loading stations will be set up around campus, Oca admits that presently the infrastructure is not yet in place, with students left to reload their accounts at convenience stores within vicinity of the campus.
A question of convenience
Although the survey conducted revealed that most students were in favor of the cashless approach, there are still some who do not fully support the initiative.
Among the students not in favor of the approach is Perry Perlas (III, CAM-LGL), who questions its reliability, asking, “Paano kung na-lowbat yung phone ko? Paano ko naman magagamit yung GCash?”
(What happens if my phone dies? How will I access GCash then?)
Manny Ningil (II, FIN), on the other hand, believes that “the GCash system is very convenient,” as he would be able to buy anything without taking out his Louis Vuitton wallet, recalling instances when he had to bring smaller bills just to purchase cheap goods. “It was so hassle to dig up coins when all I had were P1,000 bills. This will help people with too much money on their hands,” he explains.
Polly Ty-Co (IV, LGL) admits that using GCash “may seem convenient since you can just pay on the go,” but remarks that having only one payment option for every purchase can “definitely have some drawbacks.” He cites the need for quality internet connection, convenient reloading stations, and clearer guidance from the administration.
Lack of consultation
The shift to GCash has also raised some concerns from the student body on whether or not the administration had conducted proper consultation. Perlas admits that, before the sudden announcement, he was not informed of any prior plans to switch over. “I don’t think they consulted us on this (the shift to GCash). I didn’t see any emails nor were there any forums anywhere,” he argues.
Ty-Co draws parallels to the shift in the University Break (U Break) with the adoption of GCash, believing that despite the survey showing fair results, students’ opinions are still unheard. “I remembered there were at least forums and town halls dati [that] explained what will happen after U Break, but I don’t think the USG (University Student Government) watches the administration recently,” he notes.
Oca understands the concerns of the students. “The shift to GCash will be difficult at first. But just like the U Break shift last year, I’m sure everyone will adjust to it over time,” he assures. He also defends the use of the survey results as a metric for the policy change, adding that similar to the U Break shift, such data was gathered to ensure that the change was backed by strong research.
Nonetheless, Oca guarantees the Lasallian community that the administration will guide them every step of the way, ensuring that “everything is transparent” with the shift.