University DLSU opens new school for TikTok influencers, artists
University DLSU opens new school for TikTok influencers, artists
DLSU opens new school for TikTok influencers, artists

“Giveon wrote the song; DLSU founded the college.”

Vice Chancellor for Academics (VCA) Dr. Robert Roleda hums Heartbreak Anniversary—currently a popular internet song—while slightly swaying along, admitting that it has been “stuck on my mind since I saw dances of it on social media—especially on TikTok.”

In a recent Help Desk announcement, University administrators announced that the School of Influence and Showbiz (SIZ), a DLSU-pioneered college set to provide degrees for dancers and aspiring internet celebrities, will open its doors to new students in Academic Year 2021-2022. 

University Chancellor Br. Bernard Oca FSC admits that the college was initially named after Br. Martin Sellner FSC, a former chemistry professor in DLSU who is well-known for his TikTok videos. However, Sellner declined, wishing to be inconspicuous with his TikTok fame. “I prefer not to be seen in the limelight as we must exhibit the virtue of humility—‘sit down, be humble’,” he told Oca, quoting his favorite artist, Kendrick Lamar.

Lights, camera, action

The formation of a new college came with the rise of TikTok, especially with more people yearning to make a career out of being an internet-famous star, explains Oca. “We cannot deny anymore how impactful influencers are in the world right now, and DLSU, as future-ready and forward-looking as ever, aimed to and is operating to be part of that significance.”

The college will be based in the St. Mutien Marie Hall and, as soon as physical classes come, will see new facilities such as dance rooms for teaching and developing dance choreographies; desks with attached tripods that can provide stability for shots and even a flat lay view; a powder room for putting on makeup and costumes; a hologram room to project various TikTok video aesthetics and backgrounds; and a lab for photo and video editing classes, similar to those for the Department of Communication. The Henry Sy Sr. Hall roof deck will also be occupied by the college as a multipurpose “golden hour area.”

Roleda shares that the University also plans on procuring ring lights, detached tripods, LED lights, and even some basic cosplay costumes based on an initial student survey to let students exclusively from the college borrow as they need. “We want to provide everything our students need as long as it helps them be the best they can be,” he declares.

Technical matters

In preparation for its forthcoming launch, DLSU is currently forming the curriculum for SIZ’s degree programs. Some of these include Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dancing major in TikTok Trends (BFA-TT), Bachelor of Fine Arts in Portrait Video Production, Bachelor of Arts in Vlogging, and Bachelor of Arts in Talent and Algorithm Management.

As such, the college is designing courses on Niche Building and Finding, TikTok Effects and Editing, Self Branding, and Content Monetization among many others. SIZ will also be offering electives, namely Aesthetics and Cores, Live Selling and Appealing to Emotion, Point-of-View Acting, and Frogs. 

Roleda additionally discloses the possible opening of a watered-down version of Bachelor of Arts in General Studies after almost seven years of deliberation to be designed for “aspiring educational influencers” to let them learn about topics they want to “teach” even on a surface level. 

“I don’t think there is a need [for them] to finish a whole degree in psychology if people won’t listen to actual psychology academics and pundits,” the VCA reflects.

A hallmark practice DLSU has given SIZ is its grading system. For major subjects, the college will put a premium on likes, comments, and subscribers, and followers. Oca says that while grades on summative outputs are still considered, “what is better evidence of a successful influencer than engagements on their content?” 

“A lot of experts—influencers, talent managers, and even people from the show business industry—were consulted to help with the formulation of the courses and even the whole college itself,” Roleda remarks. They also aim to hire successful internet stars among other entertainment industry professionals to teach for SIZ so that students are assured to fit Oca’s vision of “real-world ready and globally competitive influencers.”

Dividing the tide

The introduction of new courses, however, faced mixed feedback from the DLSU community as both hopeful student-influencers and hesitant members of the academe shared their insights.

“I believe that this would help us TikTok dancers to ‘hit the whoa’ properly. Kasi in my case…matagal kong inaral ‘yung dance trends since we only do self-tutorials,” explains Sabeige Lauve (III, AB-POM), who plans to shift to BFA-TT. Furthermore, Lauve remarks that the new degrees will help foster creativity within Lasallians and will boost students’ active participation in online classes.

(Because in my case, it took me time to learn the dance trends.)

Berry Tahmad (I, BS-MKT), a YouTube content creator, also expresses her interest in a degree program under SIZ because of the different grading system. “This system would help me lessen my workload. I’m juggling both my academics and influencer duties so merging the two would help me a lot,” she explains. 

But in protest against the launch of the college, some Lasallian students formed Samahan ng Mga Group Leaders (SML), a union of student-leaders that aims to “expose and fight against acts of freeloading within the DLSU community.” Renee Gayde, SML’s founding president, deems the new college as “pointless” as there are already various programs that are multidisciplinary and can cater to students who are interested in the influencer field. “Sana all special, but it would be better kung mag-ambag na lang sila sa majors nila,” she points out. 

(They should just contribute to their majors.)

Nevertheless, Oca reveals that the college has begun marketing the programs by starting a TikTok challenge in hopes of increasing the number of enrollees next year. 

“We are trying to attract potential students on TikTok by doing the #LasallianKaBecause challenge for them to…get a glimpse of what life is like in the University,” he expounds. 

“Like for part two!” Oca exclaims in his TikTok video.