Menagerie Project DTF: DLSU Top Fan scholarship
Menagerie Project DTF: DLSU Top Fan scholarship
Project DTF: DLSU Top Fan scholarship

The DLSU Freedom Wall needs no introduction. A hub for the aches, triumphs, and memes of the DLSU community, it has been a mainstay among Lasallians on Facebook since its inception. 

Hosting the full variety of the student populace, the page captures life at every stage of being in the University. The wall is frequented by people ranging from incoming frosh—still spry and youthful, unsullied by age, their posts laced with gratitude and happiness about being accepted into the University—to older and wiser DLSU students—whose posts, where once was optimism and grit, have turned into a humble appreciation for the small miracles in life. The Freedom Wall is filled with none but the best and brightest of the University; it is only natural that the University administration is devoting resources into taking advantage of this diverse talent pool—granting benefits to the page’s most faithful and meaningful contributors.

Voice of generation Z

“Why not celebrate the efforts of the students to express themselves on the Freedom Wall?” This was the question raised by Awit Chong, head of the DLSU Yeet Office and avid Facebook user, during the board meeting with University administration last February 14. The radical nature of the suggestion had stirred an uproar among those who were in attendance. Still, some of them knew it was time to start revolutionizing the way La Salle recognizes student achievements and contributions. 

“Gets ko nga where Ms. Chong was coming from. To be honest, the Freedom Wall is a pretty innovative and influential platform,” shared Dein Wokeako, director of DLSU directors, expressing his thoughts on the issue at the meeting.

Chong went on to explain that the page serves as a place where freedom of speech—or writing, in this case—has been thriving. From analytical thinking to translating their thoughts into writing, this online platform has created an avenue for students to exercise the skills they learn in class. “Parang their level of engagement alone in online debates and discussions can be perceived as a clear performance indicator of how effective our methods of teaching are nga eh actually,” Chong explained. 

Top fans, top prizes

Amid the back-and-forth discussions among members of the Board of Trustees, plans of action have been put in place since that fateful day. A new incentivization program is undergoing its development and testing phase, with Chong leading the entire operation. It has been disclosed that this new program will be dubbed as the DLSU Top Fan Scholarship, more simply referred to as Project DTF. 

Being a Facebook page, the DLSU Freedom Wall is able to grant some active users the special status of “Top Fans”. Top Fans are those who frequently like, comment, and share the page’s posts—and in the case of Freedom Wall, these individuals invest an inordinate amount of time into lamenting about the existence of frosh as well as their unrequited crushes on professors. 

The program will offer benefits to the students who can maintain their DLSU Freedom Wall Top Fan Badge for at least six months to a year. The level of wit and consistency in commenting—which will be assessed by the DLSU Freedom Wall administrators—will determine the rankings of the students and the kinds of benefits that they may receive. A complete list of the benefits for each rank has yet to be finalized, but Chong discloses that some perks will include free lunch meals from Perico’s, partial tuition fee discounts, and advance enrollment slots. It was also confirmed that the Top Fan with the highest ranking will be granted  full scholarship for one academic year.

To their advantage

Unsurprisingly, the initiative has been met with a large amount of positivity, although some students remain skeptical about its requirements. Phi Lia D. Torre (III, BS-YUH) expresses concern for students who don’t possess Facebook accounts or who have unstable internet connections at home. “This whole DLSU Freedom Wall scheme reeks of straight-up privilege and ignorance. Not everyone has the means to be online 24/7. How can a student’s intelligence and academic competence be measured through the sharing of memes and tagging of friends?” she objects. 

Meanwhile, Ayra Kobeh (III, BS-ORG), a member of the Privileged Community Society, refutes the complaints regarding lack of accessibility. “Bruh, how is that our fault? How is it the University’s fault that you don’t have a Facebook account? Just get one! You don’t have Wi-Fi? Just have it installed!” he says, after a moment adding confusedly, “What do you mean not everyone can afford Wi-Fi?”

Another danger that Project DTF introduces, however, is the inevitable conflict between students. For a student to maintain the Top Fan badge, they must be able to beat out any and all competition by constantly commenting on and sharing Freedom Wall posts. Con Yo (II, BS-LUH) says in frustration, “I’ve been constantly refreshing the page to comment on and share the latest posts to receive the scholarship because my parents can barely afford to send me to La Salle. But kase no matter what I do, there’s always someone with a faster connection who gets the job done first eh.” 

In contrast, DLSU Freedom Wall Top Fan Jeff Geoff (III, BS-HUY) discloses, “Yeah, I don’t really need the scholarship. I just want to win and establish dominance.”

Just playing

While the goal of the project is to aid in the holistic growth of the entire student populace, there seems to be a divide in its favor. “With this initiative, the opportunity for a better and more comfortable academic career will be just a dream for others who truly need it, due to those that merely treat it as a game,” expresses University Student Government Vice President for Internal Affairs Jolson Cruz.

Even though the project is still in its infancy, the discourse that its mere prospect has brought about among the DLSU community is a reminder of the importance of exercising prudence and fairness in commenting and sharing, as the most mundane of Facebook comments have never held as much power as they do now.