By under Headlines, University.

A student pays P930 each term for services and activities of the University Student Government (USG), the Council of Student Organizations and the Student Publication Office, according to the information campaign released by the Office of the USG Treasurer last month, but where does the money go?

USG Treasurer Austin Uy shares that the administration granted P558 000 as USG’s operational fund for this school year. Added to the operational fund, the batch and college units have a depository fund from their predecessors, which amounts to P866 790.08. Hence, a total of P1 424 790.08 is at the disposal of the USG.

Despite the operational and depository funds amounting to more than a million, Uy informs that it is still insufficient. “A lot of our [USG units’] projects need a large budget that the money in their respective USG accounts cannot cover or shoulder [anymore],” Uy furthers. The USG holds fund raising activities (FRA) to gather additional budget for their expenses.

Under Chapter 3.2.4 of the S-LIFE’s Student Activities Manual, “The University acknowledges the need for student organizations to source their funds on top of their operating budget allocated for them”. This allows the units to raise an unlimited amount during their FRAs, but they are only allowed to organize four FRAs throughout the year.

“An FRA effort is not just for one project. Each unit tries to exhaust its effort in creating a big FRA so that they may allocate the money to many of their [future] projects,” Uy clarifies.

There are also times when the units’ collections exceed the needed funding for a specific activity. Uy explains that the extra collections are stored in the units’ accounts for future use. When the units are not able to allocate all the money, it is carried over to the next batch’s depository fund.

This creates the issue on the efficiency of USG units to conduct FRAs when they do not use the proceeds within the year. Some USG units did not even spend in the past term.

Jay Sanchez (III, AB-PSM) believes that the USG needs to be more transparent in the collection of funds and how they’re exactly used. “What’s lacking is the documentation and presentation of what they’re trying to accomplish. They say that it goes to this cause or advocacy, but the students definitely need to see proof of that action,” Sanchez elaborates.

When asked where the different units’ funds go, the common reply was the units will create activities their batches need the most. They claimed that they regularly conduct surveys to know the needs of their constituents. However, when The Lasallian asked for the sample survey forms and results, the different batches were ambiguous in their reply.

Some students also feel that the presence of the USG is only felt when they hold FRAs and that the collection of the proceeds is slower than the pace of the projects actually done.

“I believe they are only active when they have fund-raising activities. Honestly, after the campaign period, I don’t feel their existence except for their pictures posted in emails and around the campus,” Angelica Nuñez (II, BS-APC) attests.

Nuñez  furthers that she is not completely aware that the profits from the FRAs should be used for projects that would benefit the student body. “Perhaps, it says something about how they [USG] use these funds. If they really utilize them, then I should feel it and be aware of them [USG activities] by now.” She does not deny though that she buys products from the different FRAs because of their novelty.

In an informal survey conducted by The Lasallian, the different batch units informed that the money they collect from FRAs are spent mostly on publicity materials such as posters and tarpaulins and parties.

If a part of the student’s tuition is allocated to the USG, but the different units still conduct FRAs, which results in additional collections from the students, the USG should be able to allocate the additional funding to relevant projects.

The USG can concentrate on socio-civic and long-term activities such as improvements in the solid waste management program of the school, leadership trainings, and efforts to actively participate in nation building.