Student groups, from professional organizations to University Student Government (USG) units are allowed to conduct fund raising activities (FRA) to generate funds for day-to-day operations, ad hoc activities, and future projects. These organizations most commonly utilize selling of merchandise, such as shirts, as their FRA. Before the merchandise can be released to the public, however, the hosting organization must seek approval from the University’s Office for Strategic Communications (STRATCOM).
It has been an established practice that all FRA merchandise designs that bear any trademark or form of branding associated with the University are submitted to the STRATCOM for approval. The office requires all student organizations to follow this, so they could regulate whether the designs that will printed on the merchandise follow the correct style and features of all De La Salle University (DLSU) trademarks.
Early this academic year, though, some USG units have expressed concerns that the STRATCOM will eventually mandate all student organizations that use any form of DLSU trademark in their FRAs to pay P1000 for every week of selling. Several student organizations find this amount hefty, more so, they were confused on how such policy was implemented without any USG unit’s knowledge.
Step by step
Officers from different student organizations have expressed general discontent over the supposedly new rule that will be imposed by the STRATCOM. The said rule is an extension of the conditions already established by the office that must be followed by student organizations who wish to sell merchandise as their FRA.
The original process begins with student organizations sending their merchandise design proposals to STRATCOM for approval before the pre-selling period. “[STRATCOM] requires [organizations] to submit a filled up form and the shirt design,” Carlos John Barrera, Executive Vice President of the Lasallian Scholars Society, shares. The additional fee to be collected is still foreign among student organizations and USG units.
“What I know is that for as long as it’s considered an FRA, the [STRATCOM] will get some portion of the earnings,” an org representative who wishes to remain anonymous explains. “But they’d only do that for products that bear any connection to La Salle, like our chant, star, etc.”
By the third term, the STRATCOM will already collect the weekly fee of P1,000 from student organizations that use the DLSU logo and trademarks in their merchandise designs. Director for Operations Johannes Badillo clarifies that the fee is not any form of royalty collection legally required when an entity uses a trademark, patent, or copyright. In addition, Badillo says that STRATCOM only wishes to breed a culture of giving among student organizations through the imposed fee.
He also informs that the precedent of the new rule is the student consignors of DLSU’s The Store. Badillo shares that 30 percent of the profit earned by student consigners at The Store automatically goes to the DLSU Scholarship Fund. He furthers that the P1,000 fee only copies the nature of the student consignor setup.
Jill Legaspi, a STRATCOM officer in charge of the approval of FRA designs, and Badillo also mention that the identification of the amount to be collected underwent a consultation process, with the Office of Dean for Student Affairs and Council for Student Organizations (CSO) spearheading the effort. It was agreed upon by all parties that P1000 is the most viable amount.
The operations head quips that the student organizations usually conduct FRAs for operations expenses, but the additional P1000 to be collected will guarantee that the FRAs will serve its truest purpose which is to raise funds for those who are in need. “All proceeds will go to the DLSU Scholarship Fund,” according to Badillo.
No support garnered
Since fees have never been collected from organizations conducting FRA before, most organization officers have grown apprehensive of the new rule. Some have expressed their disapproval of the rule, reasoning that a cut on sales would mean lesser funds that can be used for the organization’s expenditures. “We look for alternatives,” Hans Yu, Vice President for Finance of the Chemical Engineering Society, says, adding that they would rather not use any form of DLSU branding in their future designs. For other organizations, the same alternative is being considered.
Hale Berry de Vera, Vice President for Marketing of the Economics Organization, shares that student organizations from the University should not be charged. She finds the fee unnecessary and adds that the groups not affiliated with DLSU that sell DLSU merchandise should be charged instead, or at least, STRATCOM should go after them.
Although it was speculated that the new rule was already imposed during the start of the year, student organizations that used DLSU trademarks in their shirt designs have not been charged any additional fees. According to Karl Ong, Batch Vice President of the USG unit 68th ENG, “Rumors are spreading that we have to pay a fee now, but [when we sold shirts], we were not asked to pay.” The batch government recently concluded their FRA last week, where they sold shirts bearing the University’s name.
Badillo and Legaspi confirm that the new policy is just waiting for clearance from other University offices, but reiterates that it is already approved and agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders, including the student groups. The two reassure that the culture of giving is what the office is trying to uphold at DLSU.