Is Lasallian education relevant and responsive to the needs of Philippine Society? Has the University been shaping and preparing its students to become socially responsible? These questions were probably in the minds of Br. Andrew Gonzales FSC and Mr. Juan Miguel Luz when they established the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) in 1983.
Building on the resurgence of social action brought about by the EDSA Revolution, COSCA’S efforts from 1986-1987 revolved around initiating dialogues on development issues among the various sectors of the University. It worked closely with the University’s Social Orientation Integration Program (SOIP) which eventually became the Panlipunang Kamalayan tungo sa Makabuluhang Layunin, Aksyon, at Tungkulin (PAGKAMULAT). With PAGKAMULAT, COSCA endeavored to make Lasallians more in-touch with the pressing realities of the country. COSCA served as catalyst to network all La Salle schools and mission schools in the Philippines.
The community involvement of students and faculty was reviewed in SY 1988-1989. In the years that followed, COSCA focused its services on disaster relief and emergency response to address the needs brought forth by the natural calamities during that time. Typhoon and lahar victims from Calauag, Quezon and Mt. Pinatubo, Pampanga received relief goods, clothing, and medical supplies, and also benefited from psychotherapy sessions and moral support from the Lasallian community.
COSCA linked its programs with the academic colleges and departments to maximize their expertise while addressing the needs of poor communities. COSCA served as the coordinating body for all curricular and co-curricular community service activities in the University. It also started, on an experimental basis, the community service program of students through the Religious Studies 4 (RELSFOR) subject and the Expanded Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) for students who opt to take civic welfare services.
In the years that followed, COSCA persevered in promoting social responsibility, volunteerism, and community service in the University. Based on the program evaluation and impact assessment studies conducted by the Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO) covering the period 1996-2001, Lasallian students and volunteers have not only contributed a part of themselves, but they themselves benefited from COSCA’s programs. They understood the life situation of the poor, their problems, issues, traits, and qualities. They also developed compassion, concern for the poor and learned to appreciate the good things and blessings in their lives.
The 100 year celebration of Lasallian presence in the Philippines did not only highlight DLSU’s role as a leading academic resource for national development. Deep reflection on the Founder’s values prompted the university to revise its vision-mission, clearly identifying “service to society, especially the poor”, as one of the fundamental goals that all members of the DLSU community should achieve.
Inspired by the new DLSU vision-mission, COSCA re-calibrated its mandate in the university. From directly providing services to marginalized communities, it now envisions itself as the “forefront of social formation and engagement” within the university helping other members of the DLSU community in actualizing the Lasallian Social Development Principles.