May 23, 2024 (11:00 AM)

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Fr. Karel San Juan reflects on his terms’ achievements during the last 8 months, highlighting his consistent efforts in being one with the Ateneo community by listening to different stakeholders.

Photo by Toni Anne Albarico

Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) President Fr. Karel San Juan. S.J. identified better administrative proceedings, improved communication, and openness to converse with the whole Ateneo community as his seven-month office progress.

In an exclusive interview with Atenews, Fr. San Juan said his administration has reflected on providing better service to Ateneans, including reviewing the structure of the university proceedings. 

As such, the Office of the Academic Vice President will see changes this May as it will be divided into two: Vice President for Basic Education and Vice President for Higher Education.

“To strengthen the service further, it’s better to have one full-time administrator for basic education and one full-time vice president for higher education,” Fr. San Juan said.

Fr. San Juan stated that he has fostered better communication among faculty and staff and furthered the community relationship through extensive engagement with different University units and stakeholders.

“I think I’ve been fostering better communications among our leaders [and] among our people. How? Very simple basic things like more frequent communication through social media, even chat groups for quicker dissemination of information, [and] quicker decision-making.”

According to Fr. San Juan, he has met several groups, from the whole academic unit communities to the unions and departments.

“If I know what’s happening at the ground level, it’s better for me to make decisions–better, effective decisions,” he added. 

Philosophy professor Rhine Jay Literatos shared that the President has an organized communication framework, emphasizing careful planning and decision-making.

“The President’s communication style appears to be structured and systematic, primarily facilitated through the Associate Vice President (AVP)…The emphasis on avoiding hasty decisions should be appreciated, as it contributes to the overall effectiveness and sustainability of the university’s communication practices,” she said. 

In response to concerns about University issues such as uniform policies and dress code, Fr. San Juan encouraged students to voice their clamors to relevant University authorities.

“Lobby before revision of dress code. Tap the SAMAHAN. I want the students to be confident in the student government. Feel free to advocate,” he said.

“We will try to listen and hear all perspectives and trust the administrators that in all honesty and sincerity, we will make the right decisions, but when it comes to that [uniforms], feel free to advocate.” 

The current University president also assured the student body that they will take proper measures to protect students against red-tagging. 

“We will fight red-tagging whoever is doing that, and our administrators will make sure that wherever you will be deployed in terms of immersion and fieldwork, that we talk to the authorities so that your identity is clear and that you won’t be mistaken,” he further stated. 

Fr. San Juan made clear the university’s zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment and will take action to prevent and stop it from happening.   

“We should not tolerate such, and there are protocols and then laws that we should implement to counter and to prevent and to stop sexual harassment in campus”

In the following months and years of his term, Fr. San Juan is committed to bolstering academic, extracurricular, and organizational life by ensuring support in all aspects of the student’s life, along with a strong emphasis on community outreach and service.

“Continuing support for student life, I would call it student life in general, meaning your academic life, your life inside the classrooms and laboratories, making sure that you have adequate facilities [and] making sure that there are enough laboratories and computers and all, [including] internet connection and everything, [in] academic life,” he said.

Political Science second-year student Sarah Jessica Amelda assumes that the President will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, the former AdDU President Fr. Joel Tabora, and carry upon the unresolved issues in the University.

“I am expecting Fr. Karel to be able to take action on things that Fr. Tabora, the [former] President, was not able to take action on and finish [before stepping down]. For example, the uniform policy,” she said. 

Furthermore, Literatos expressed her expectations of the university president in the upcoming academic term, focusing on expediting decision-making and immediate actions.  

“By placing a greater emphasis on timely discernment and decision-making, the president can address concerns more promptly, enhancing transparency and clarity for students and faculty…this adjustment will facilitate a more open dialogue, meeting the community’s need for immediate clarity and strengthening unity and effectiveness,” she added.



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