The Legislative Assembly (LA) held a session last August 8 in the University Student Government (USG) conference room to deliberate on appointments for the Vice President for Internal Affairs and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) commissioners, as well as to discuss the recent issue on buying and selling of courses among University students during enlistment period.
As first order of business, the LA moved to deliberate on appointing a replacement officer for the vacated slot in the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA). The last time there was a vacancy in the said position was back in 2011 when Nicole Gaba resigned from her post after her family decided to migrate from the country.
Since former USG President Carlo Inocencio graduated earlier this year, Vice President for Internal Affairs Pram Menghrajani filled the vacancy and took over as USG President. Following Menghrajani’s ascension, a replacement officer for the vacant position was necessary. On June 4, Menghrajani endorsed OVPIA Student Services Director Marc Morales for the position, an offer that was turned down by Morales on June 11.
Menghrajani then endorsed Jon Ridge Ong, who was serving as the Chairperson for the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM), for the position. During the session, Ong added that one of his main qualifications for the positions was his familiarity in the inner workings of the USG, having served in the student government for the past four years.
Ong also mentioned that because of his experience in DAAM, he has grown acquainted in dealing with administrators and offices, a task that, according to Menghrajani, previous officers in the position of VP-Internals were faced with. When asked about his plans should he be appointed to the position, Ong explained that he would focus on efforts in student representation in different sectors and in student services, such as locker rentals.
However, the legislators disapproved the motion by abstention, with a final tally of two voting for, zero voting against, and 17 abstaining. In a statement released by Chief Legislator Patrick Kahn last August 9, he reiterated the important role that the LA plays when making decisions on appointments as a “check and balance to the executive”.
He further stated that as legislators, it is their task to look into these appointments with great scrutiny, and even more so for a position as significant as that of the Vice President for Internal Affairs.
“The constitution’s mandate of endorsement provided to the Presidency is a matter of high responsibility, and the legislature will likewise continue holding the Executive to the highest standard as this role is carried out,” he said.
The LA is given the yearly task of appointing 14 COMELEC Commissioners as mandated by the USG Constitution, with two Commissioners hailing from each of the University’s colleges. During Saturday’s session, the LA voted for the appointment of four Commissioners from several applicants who were subjected to interviews with the LA representatives.
This year, Giunell Flores (V, AB-ISE) was appointed for the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and Narelle Domingo (III, BS-LGL) was appointed for the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVR-COB). Meanwhile, Roland Rosas (V, BS-CIV) and Jhanniz Paloma (IV, BS-STAT) were appointed Commissioners for the Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) and the College of Science (COS), respectively. This leaves one vacant slot each for CLA, RVR-COB, GCOE, and COS. For the School of Economics (SOE), College of Computer Studies (CCS), and the Br. Andrew Gonzales College of Education (BAGCED), both positions remain open.
As explained on the floor, applications that were disapproved by abstention allow for the student applicant to run for the position again.
“Black market” trading of courses
In response to the alarming number of students who have posted in social media to buy or sell courses online, the LA also discussed possible solutions to remedy the problem.
CATCH 2T18 Representative Jorge Francisco relayed information from a meeting that was held with University Registrar Dr. Voltaire Mistades. “The Office of the Registrar (OUR) wants to give [us students] freedom in selecting our own classes and it is just unfortunate we [have abused] this privilege,” stated Francisco. The OUR recently released a memorandum via the University Helpdesk reiterating provisions in the student handbook. This was done to warn students of possible offenses that they can incur for buying and selling courses.
Francisco also brought up that not everyone who posted on Facebook groups looking to buy or sell actually push through with the trade. However, he further emphasized that once transactions are proven to have taken place, students involved will be sanctioned as necessary. The OUR will be working with the Student Discipline Formation Office in investigating such cases.
The floor further discussed that to solve the problem, the root cause — identified to be the lack of classes offered for the term — must first be addressed. Francisco explained that course offerings are prepared by academic assistants using student flowcharts as basis. Because students who fail subjects and subsequently get delayed are not accounted for, discrepancies in the course offerings count arise.
Course projection per college before enlistment period was suggested as a remedy, but in the meantime, the LA is still currently deliberating on long-term suggestions in order to stop students from buying and selling courses.