Reigh John Bench Almendras
The front of the Department of Student Affairs office in Colegio de San Juan de Letran - Manila. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Nollora Jr. of The LANCE.
The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) Directress Catherine Sanchez clarified the guidelines for uniform and hair color for Academic Year (AY) 2023-2024 mandated through the promulgation of the Memo-DSA-2324-007 in an exclusive interview with The LANCE on Thursday, September 14.
On Proper Uniform
Students who are waiting for the restock of uniforms can coordinate with the DSA to acquire a pass valid for two weeks and must observe proper decorum prescribed by the 2023 Student Handbook.
"If the students do not have their uniform yet, they can go to our office and secure a temporary pass. We issue a temporary pass every two weeks. (Effectivity of the pass is two weeks) para hindi sila sisitahin ng guards sa labas. If they don't have their uniform yet, they should observe proper civilian clothes na naka-stipulate naman sa Student Handbook." Directress Sanchez clarified.
The department further clarifies the question of the students regarding the removal of the Quadricentennial Polo in the list of prescribed uniforms and possibility of Wednesdays to be a civilian day.
DSA still strongly implements the requirement of wearing the soon-to-be phased out Quadricentennial Polo Shirts as proper uniform every Wednesday.
"It is clear that if it is Washday Wednesday, the only allowed (polo) shirt is the Quadricentennial (Polo) Shirt. So, if they have classes every Wednesday and they do not have the (Quadricentennial Polo Shirt), they have to wear their proper uniform. As of now, nasa production pa 'yung bagong college (polo) shirt, so once ma-release na yung bagong polo shirt, that is the time all students must have their polo shirt on Wednesdays." Directress Sanchez stated.
The department also addressed the question regarding the usage of Senior High School (SHS) PE uniforms of freshman students who graduated SHS in Letran-Manila. According to the department, they leave the discretion to the PE Professors.
"Well, as far as the Department of Student Affairs is concerned, as long as it's Letran PE Uniform, they can. But it depends on the PE Professors, because there are PE Professors who are very strict when it comes to PE attire.. So if PE Uniform ang kini-consider natin dito, pwede naman ang PE pants and shirt, given that the teacher will allow it in their respective classes." Directress Sanchez clarified.
On Wearing Open Sandals During the Rainy Season
The DSA confirmed that the students can wear open sandals upon entry to the Colegio, but rest assured that they will change to prescribed footwear before engaging in their respective academic activities.
"Actually, that's the practice of some students eh, they wear crocs (or) slippers, and once they enter the campus, they change into the prescribed shoes. We allow that, provided that once they roam around the campus or enter their respective classes, they should be in proper shoe attire." Directress Sanchez further explained.
On the overview of the Colegio’s hair policy
DSA Directress Catherine Sanchez points out that the hair color policy and the school’s dress code aligns with the school mission of being a Catholic institution with a conservative approach.
“This is to convey an image of the school’s students along with the school's brand of identity. It also emphasizes discipline. The policy also supports the school’s educational goal, our school focuses academic excellence, and wearing a [non-distractive] hair color contributes to a better learning environment.” Directress Sanchez said.
“We want the students to feel that they are welcome and they are included that is why wearing brown or at least, Asian colored hair. As long as it’s not vibrant color like blond/blonde, blue, green, yellow, striking white—we do not allow that. As long as they wear at least Asian hair color, that will be allowed. Certain hairstyles are also restricted in maintaining in discipline and orderly school environment,” the directress adds.
In retrospect, some students, especially boys and those who express themselves with long hair in the past have been called out due to their lack of compliance to the school’s prescribed decorum policy.
On The Students’ Sense of Identity
DSA Directress further explains that the Colegio values tradition as a way to maintain a sense of identity, discipline and continuity.
“We understand that school policies should evolve to reflect yung mga values such as yung inclusivity, diversity… [But] what was acceptable in the past will no longer be acceptable today, that is why we extend leniency when it comes to certain acceptable hair color that is common to most students. But, vibrant colors are not acceptable. Sa dress codes and grooming standards are essential to a more focused and respectful learning environment. Ayun ang gusto nating ma-achieve when it comes to the hair policy.” Directress Sanchez said.
The debate surrounding Colegio de San Juan de Letran's hair policy and other concerns of student’s expression brings up a range of important issues related to personal development, cultural significance, and education. It demonstrates the need for educational institutions to adapt to changing societal norms while balancing tradition and individuality.
Directress Sanchez later says that the DSA are open to engage in dialogues for policies that strikes a reasonable balance between the competing interests.
“This would require, of course, a careful consideration of the school’s unique culture and values it upholds, and the evolving needs and expectations of its students and of course the community.”