Last year, the USG constitution was opened for revisions. The reviews and eventual amendments were spearheaded by the Legislative Assembly (LA). However, because much of the LA’s focus was on revisions of the Student Handbook (the current one now bears the revisions), only four resolutions materialized with the addition of five more last term.
As a unit, the LA has been busy in reviewing, amending, and arriving at resolutions and revisions to cater to the constantly changing preferences and nature of the student body and the institution for which its functions are needed.
Constitution awaiting ratification
Although revisions have already been approved, the Constitution needs to be ratified for amendments to take effect. Since the Constitution was opened for revisions last year, the LA resolved to approve an extension period. The LA aims to push through with the ratification by the end of the second or third term. The new and revision provisions will be implementation by next school year.
One of the more important amendments made in the Constitution pertained to the Bill of Rights. Although the revision was opened last year, those made in Article IV, Article III in the revised Constitution have only been proposed and approved this year.
Vague provisions have been supplemented with more defined stipulations. For instance, Section 3 of the present Bill states, “every student has the right to receive professional competence from faculty and administration.” The amendments, however, stipulated that competence shall be made in line with the mission-vision statement of the University. Furthermore, the new Bill clarified that every student has the right to academic evaluation based on a criteria presented in the curriculum.
Aside from the aforementioned, a new provision was also introduced. It reads, “Every student has the right to go through a standard process in cases where academic evaluation is to be justified.” The addition to the Bill grants students the right to due process in terms of academic grievance, an issue among students that becomes important during the end of a term.
“The amended Bill of Rights will not take into effect if the New USG constitution has not yet been ratified, but regarding the effectivity, I think that the new Bill of Rights will be more student-friendly,” Chief Legislator Carl Au assures.
The amendments made were based on the proposals and concerns students raised in an open forum entitled, “Your Say, Your Rights” last July.
Moreover, supplementary guidelines for the resignation of USG officers were added in the revised Constitution. Various changes were also made in the provisions that pertain to the Judiciary branch of the USG.
One major provision that was evaluated is the possibility of a merger between the USG and DLSU Canlubang’s Student Council. The concern lies on whether both student governments would remain autonomous to each other or if both campuses should share one main student government. This is in line with the administration’s endeavor to incorporate the Canlubang extension campus to the main campus. The initial stand of the DLSU’s administration is to merge the two bodies.
With the pending ratification of the Constitution, Minority Floor Leader Jam Padilla explains that similar to usual resolutions passed, there is a challenge to inform the student body and the USG officers of the new and revised provisions.
For Au, the Legislative Assembly needs to be vigilant of needs of the USG and the University to understand and determine the needs of the student body. Regulations and stipulations need to address the respective needs of the University’s stakeholders. He believes that timeliness and relevance play essential roles in the consideration for amendments.
According to Article XXVI Section 1 of the USG Constitution, compliance by the LA with the constitutional requirement of a proposal by the students through an initiative, along with a vote of at least two thirds of the members of the LA, may open the Constitution for revisions.
Padilla further elaborates on the process. An authored resolution must always contain the reason amendments should be made. These reasons, she shares, are usually based on the essence of the USG’s establishment. Because the USG needs to perform at its best by next year, current provisions that go against the principles and reasons of the USG’s very establishment need to be amended.
Furthermore, the LA encourages debates between representatives to examine the validity of a proposed amendment. Although the decisions always lie on the LA, students also have a say in it through their respective batch LA Representatives, Padilla says. Voting then takes place after the debates.
Recent efforts of the National Affairs Committee have focused on the creation of manifestos on national issues that have unavoidably affected the student body. These manifestos represent the stand of the DLSU student body on pressing issues such as the Reproductive Health Bill and Cybercrime Prevention Act. The LA then sees to it that the positions on respective issues as stated in the manifestos are relayed properly and reach the concerned government officials.
Au shares that the LA is pushing to become more transparent and visible to the student body. He furthers that the branch wants to increase student involvement in its activities. LA sessions are sometimes held in larger venues to accommodate students. New resolutions, approved manifestos, and minutes of sessions are regularly posted and can be found on the official USG website.
Despite such efforts, Jerold Zapata (III, BS-CHYB) shares that he feels that he is not engaged with the LA’s initiatives since he has no knowledge as to its undertakings. Aaron Nubla (IV, MFI), on the other hand, recognizes the relevance of manifestos the LA has published.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that all students agree with the manifesto. Each person is entitled to his or her opinion of the things at hand,” Nubla adds.