As this academic year comes to an end, so does the term of the outgoing University Student Government (USG) officers. The year was embroiled in various ups and downs for the USG, with student trust more volatile now than ever. Despite these setbacks, the USG officers emphasize the continued service and representation for the student body.
With this, The LaSallian looks back at the performance of the USG this year, highlighting their biggest accomplishments, issues, and things to improve on for the next year.
Highlighting key achievements
USG President Zedrick Laqui highlights the different major projects accomplished by the Office of the President (OPRES), which include the One in Service, One La Salle program; the formalization of regular meetings with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Administration, and Vice Chancellor for Academics; and the formalization of the Committee on Campus Life, among several others.
Laqui also cites numerous achievements of different USG offices. Some examples include the Office of the Treasurer’s (OTREAS) transparency report and the profits raised for scholarship grants and student loans through bazaars, as well as the Office of the Secretary’s (OSEC) creation of a website and increased avenues for information dissemination such as the USG Text Messaging System.
Among other initiatives include the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs’ (OVPEA) involvement in national issues, particularly through rallies, forums, and other programs, as well as the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs’ (OVPIA) basic student services including locker rentals, book lending, umbrella lending, and the annual University Vision-Mission Week.
USG Executive Treasurer Brian Chen emphasizes that the USG’s main goal this year was to intensify student representation. “The biggest achievement of the USG this academic year, I’d say, would be being able to achieve its vision of a student-centered University. We were able to establish direct communication to a lot of the University administrators,” he explains. “To give a specific metric, the University has over 40 to 50 administrative departments and we are almost covering 100 percent representation on all these departments [and] administrators.”
Meanwhile, at the DLSU Laguna Campus, formerly DLSU – Science and Technology Complex (STC), Campus President Kristian Sisayan notes two main achievements for the STC Government (STCG). The first of which is the increased representation of STC in the University mainly in terms of gaining a seat in the Enrollment Council, as well as the formation of four Council of University Representative committees. The second is the increased external and internal connections with various offices from DLSU as well as with the student governments of other La Salle schools.
Challenges and issues
The USG ran into various issues, including the influx of controversies nearing the end of the year, but the insufficient funds became one of their biggest obstacles.
For instance, USG Executive Secretary Monica Otayza mentions a project that was postponed due to financial constraints. “We were supposed to launch a new USG Application. However, due to the different projects we have launched, we [were not able] to fund it anymore,” she explains.
On the other hand, Chen notes that the online payment system for tuition fees was one of the projects he wished the USG could have implemented during his term. “During the formal meeting with the Senior Financial Consultant to the President and the University Controller, it was mentioned that due to lean years that we are currently experiencing, the University may not shoulder the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) which is charged by a third-party for the services provided,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Sisayan stresses that time and lack of manpower were their biggest challenges. “I had envisioned the Laguna campus to be a good venue for a TEDx event. However, we weren’t able to materialize such kind of an event due to the preparation time needed in organizing one,” he continues. “We also lack the manpower as each unit in STCG only has eight to ten officers in it. Compared to our Taft counterparts, it would really take time for us to craft such big events.”
On the other hand, the students claim that among the USG’s setbacks include the “lack of transparency and the leaders’ competence.”
Joseph* laments that the USG displayed a lack of transparency regarding certain processes, leading to scandals that question the legitimacy and reliability of the USG. “Also, they had a habit of beating around the bush in some scandals, preferring to contain the issue rather than being upfront about it,” he notes.
Kina* hits that the students can only feel the USG during the campaign and election period just because they want to gain votes. Her impression of the USG is that they are not sincere. “Almost anything the USG does, we find it appalling, like, that’s great look at them try so hard,” she expresses. “The problem with USG is that they don’t keep their word. They keep sugarcoating their words but do they actually live up to them? I don’t think so.”
Rina* thinks the same as she feels that in order for the USG to completely fulfill their duties, the student body should also cooperate. “The student body should work hand in hand with its government for a smoother and a more effective dissemination of roles,” she elaborates.
Lastly, Tria* thinks that as a student, one can contribute to the USG if they start voicing out opinions about them and their activities. “For so long, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut regarding the things they have done. Next school year, I want to be heard because I really think that the USG is not actually representing the student body,” she asserts. “I think now is the best time to stand up to them and make them realize that there’s something wrong with the system.”
Looking forward, final messages
“The USG may continue to innovate communication channels, find new ways to engage and get the participation of students, further engage the students in national affairs as we have started this year, and continue to push for relevant programs that would improve the student life of everyone in DLSU,” Otayza enumerates.
On the other hand, Sisayan emphasizes the need for the STCG to continue working towards collaboration.
“Personally, I think the next STCG should work on improving collaboration with different organizations. In this way, we get to create bigger opportunities for our fellow students. Inside the campus, I would like the STCG to have more collaboration projects with the Senior High School,” Sisayan explains. “The next steps would be to increase partnerships with the different offices inside the University.”
Tria believes that there should be proper implementation on each project. “All of the budget and other statistics should also be provided in their Facebook pages and websites because if the Philippine government and other agencies can provide that in their sites, why not our own University?” she questions.
Before ending the year, the USG officers express their gratitude to the student body for having been given the opportunity to initiate various programs and activities. “Whether it is the Manila or Laguna campus, [we] will soon be one of the greatest in our country. With this we have to keep on striving to help make the ambiance more vibrant, and to make the process and policies more conducive to our learning experience,” Sisayan concludes.
*Names with asterisks are pseudonyms.